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Heritage House Rehab

By   /   September 24, 2009  /   Comments

First, there was Mayor Willie Adams’ campaign manager Rod Mullice whose taxpayer-financed project went bankrupt.

Then, convicted felon Don Buie was hired by City Manager Alfred Lott to, among other things, administer millions of dollars of taxpayer funds.

Now, Lott is seeking to taxpayer funds to be awarded to two more businessmen with financial troubles.

This time, $16 million in public funds is at stake.

Public records show that North Carolina businessman Romeo Comeau and Columbus architect John Rivers, who are proposing to use $16 million in federal economic stimulus funds to redevelop the dilapidated Heritage House hotel on West Oglethorpe Boulevard, have liens filed against them in Muscogee County.

City Commissioner Bob Langstaff refused Tuesday to release public records that he has obtained pertaining to Comeau’s and River’s financial troubles, but the Journal obtained them, anyway.

Public records show that Rivers and Comeau defaulted on taxes they owed on commercial property Rivers was purchasing from William H. Hogencamp, the father of Albany Journal Publisher Kevin Hogencamp. Rivers was forced to leave the property for nonpayment.

Meanwhile, Rivers has a $49,786 judgment against him in a business dispute with Harlan A. Price, a former Columbus architect who now practices in Fortson.

Rivers also is indebted to the state of Georgia for failure to pay unemployment contributions for employees.

Comeau and Rivers are proposing to use taxpayer funds to largely finance 90 low-to-moderate income rental units at the Heritage House, and a 70-unit facility for elderly people nearby. The city has been assisting the men for several months. Lott, who won’t say when he learned Buie was a felon, also won’t say whether background checks were performed on Comeau and Rivers.

Adams helped break round ceremonially in 2006 when Mullice and some business associates, saying of the proposed $20 million Enclave at Oglethorpe project, “I can envision that this is going to be a tremendous success.”

The mayor later lied in a public meeting about his association with Mullice; the project, which received a $500,000 city loan, has since gone bankrupt. A road at the development is named after City Commissioner Tommie Postell’s father.

Buie, meanwhile, was fired after reporters revealed that he was a convicted felon who was misspending public funds.

by Staff Reports.

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