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Hotel coming down

By Michael Butler

A Tallassee landmark that has stood for more than 90 years at the corner of James and Sistrunk Streets in the downtown district is coming down, brick by brick. The Hotel Talisi, built in 1928, will soon be a vacant lot as demolition is underway.

"After hearing the report from the city's engineer, Jeff Harrison, about the concerns he had in the further deterioration of the Hotel Talisi, the city council voted to allow the mayor to search for a contractor to quickly demolish the dilapidated structure," Mayor Sarah Hill noted in a press release.

The hotel/restaurant has not been open since a Nov. 30, 2009 fire damaged it and destroyed an adjacent business building. Even after the building was purchased by Wylie Troupe and some repairs made, the city declared the property a public nuisance.

"After a lengthy legal process, the Tallassee City Council was finally able to prove that the historical Hotel Talisi posed a hazardous situation in the downtown area," councilman Bill Hall said in a meeting last year.  "The property owner agreed to sign over the deed for the property to the City of Tallassee rather than spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in necessary repairs."

Hall said the deconstruction could take up to six weeks. Ingle Construction is doing the work. Tearing down the building and removal of the debris will cost the city $118,500.

Funds from a City Development Block Grant (CDBG) were going to be used to cover the expense but are being used to demolition and clear other dilapidated buildings around the city. The council stated in a January meeting that other funds are available to handle the work downtown.

"We've been dragging this thing on," councilman Bill Godwin said prior to getting bids for demolition. "It's only fair to the existing businesses who have had to put up with bricks falling, rats, roaches, fleas running around their buildings."

Business owners Corrie Sid and Noah Griggs addressed the council at the Feb. 13 work session of the prospects of having a boutique hotel occupy the same space once the hotel demolition is complete.

Regardless of future plans downtown, many are sentimental.

"My parents grew up in Tallassee. I remember going to the hotel many times to eat. It breaks my heart to see it go down," Kim Plant-Dixon wrote in a Facebook post.

In 2019, the Hotel Talisi was added to the "Alabama Places in Peril" registry after being condemned by the city earlier the same year.

"While I am saddened that this piece of Tallassee history will be done," Mayor Hill added, "for the safety of our citizens, business owners and guests we must remove this structure. I have high hopes for the future that there will be an interested party willing to invest in the property and look forward to the progress in downtown Tallassee."