OUR VIEW: Get revenge on zombie buildings

Published 10:00 am Saturday, April 20, 2019

Albemarle’s city council should quickly move to set standards for the upkeep of commercial buildings.

Walking around the downtown area, it is easy to see the blight of abandoned properties. A building beside Four Seasons Realty on West Main Street looks like just another vacant building on the outside, but a peek inside the store windows reveals a collapsed roof that opens parts of the building up to the sky. Collapsed floors make the building not only an eyesore, but also unsafe.

There are also unconfirmed tales of a tree growing in the old Stanly Theater. Several other buildings around the area have obviously seen much better days.

With a downtown ready to begin a renaissance as the construction of the new Pfeiffer University Health Sciences building gets underway, these zombie buildings must be dealt with before they suck the life out of downtown. While preservation and renovation should be the first option for many of these properties, others appear to be too far gone to save.

Hoping that economic forces will cause owners to suddenly care about the abandoned properties and work to make them better is not a winning strategy.

It is time for City Council to step in and set minimum standards that all buildings must meet.

While it is preferable that owners maintain their own property, that just is not happening. These properties are making Albemarle look old and tired in a time when economic energy is building and anticipation of what is to come is at a new high.

It’s time for the city to deal with the dead buildings to make way for new life in Albemarle.