Young preservationists in Woodbury are battling the proposed demolition of a battered but historic former hotel on the Cooper Street gateway to downtown.
"Woodbury is rapidly losing what makes it a destination, which is historic buildings -- and the vibe they create," says Bryan Bonfiglio, of the Village Green Preservation Society. "The city doesn't need more surface parking lots."
Mayor Bill Volk says the city has worked with groups such as the Woodbury Olde City Restoration Committee to try and save the vacant Green Hotel since last year. But no buyer or other interested party with resources to rehabilitate the deteriorating structure has come forward. And the mayor says he's prepared to approve a demolition application scheduled to come before the city planning and zoning board August 20.
"It's a shame, but we really have no options at this point," Volk says. "It's been deemed an unsafe structure, and there's a risk of someone getting hurt. I understand it's a historic building -- my dad used to bring me [to a store] there. But we've given this all we can."
Holy Angels Parish owns the hotel, which was built in 1881 across from what was then the booming little city's train station. The parish offered to sell the building for $250,000, but Volk says it recently submitted a demolition application after the city received a citizen complaint about a hole in the roof. A parish attorney did not respond to a message I left with his office staff Friday.
Bonfiglio, who is a member of the city's Historic Preservation Commission as well as Olde City, says six potential buyers expressed interest, but withdrew because of "stipulations," including the fact than the church would retain an adjacent parking lot. A complete overhaul of the structure could cost close to $1 million.
Says Bonfiglio, "all these buildings have a story to tell."
A happy ending to this one seems unlikely.