Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.

Lake City News

Structural Evaluation of the Blanche Hotel
Now in the hands of the City Council

Learning that Lake City had received a proposal for a structural analysis of the Blanche Hotel from Jones Edmunds, the Observer met for a few minutes last Tuesday with City Manager Wendell Johnson for an update and a review of the proposal and progress report on the Blanche.

CM Johnson was upbeat about the Blanche's prospects for revival, but at the same time was cautious about moving too fast.

CM Johnson had scheduled a meeting with the mortgage holders, the owners and Councilman Ward for later in the week and told the Observer, "We are not here to give handouts. We are here to help the owners, if we can."

The ever cautions CM told the Observer, "We are not going to commit to anything until we know that the building is not going to fall down."

CM Johnson continued, "I don't look lightly on my responsibility to keep a watchful eye on the taxpayer's money and I know the City Council doesn't either. This is our obligation as civic leaders."

The Jones Edmunds Engineering proposal

CM Johnson explained that if the city is going to take a risk on the Blanche, then the engineering report is the risk assessment.

CM Johnson was hoping the owner was going to commit to share in the cost of the engineering study and told the Observer, "If they do, I am sure the City Council will be willing to pay the other half."

CM Johnson said that he had negotiated the original lump sum fee for the engineering assessment down to $19,500. The original proposed fee was $29,000.

It is hard to escape the ever cautious City Manager's enthusiasm for the revitalization of Lake City's downtown and the Blanche, which he feels has to be included in the downtown restoration plan.

This Monday night, the City Council will weigh in with its thoughts and its vote on whether to accept the responsibility of the engineering study.

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