The Town of Hilton Head Island has issued an ultimatum to owners of the Metropolitan Hotel: either begin to fix a vacant building on hotel property by Oct. 4 or tear it down.
In a letter sent to owners Monday, town building inspector Bob Klein said the annex building on Lemoyne Avenue behind the hotel poses a safety risk to the public.
A sagging roof, exposed wires and loose guardrails that could "fly off and hurt somebody" are among the dangers, he said Thursday. "This is not a safe structure."
Attempts to reach Metropolitan Hotel representatives were unsuccessful.
Hotel executives have said they plan to refurbish the annex, which has been vacant since 2008.
Last year, owner Remo Polselli said he hoped to turn the annex into a hostel as part of broader hotel renovations that would include flat-screen televisions and a remodeled lobby and pool area. On July 11, Klein received a letter from Polselli that said his company planned to spend $2 million on the hotel and annex.
No work permits have been filed, Klein said.
Many nearby Forest Beach property owners have complained to the town about the annex. They say the dilapidated structure is an eyesore that leaves tourists with a bad impression.
They also say vagrants and drug dealers hole up in the abandoned rooms, which they unlock with a screwdriver or a crowbar. Klein said he saw empty beer bottles Monday on the annex roof and has seen lights on inside the building.
"The building definitely attracts a criminal element," Tom Weatherhead, board president of Xanadu Villas, said last week. Xanadu sits between the hotel and the annex.
Klein's letter says hotel owners have 60 days to start fixing or tearing down the annex. Work must be completed within 90 days of obtaining a permit.
If owners fail to comply, the case could go to the town Construction Board of Appeals and Adjustments, where the hotel would have to prove the annex does not need to be renovated or demolished, according to town staff attorney Brian Hulbert.
After that, the town could take the hotel to court, he said. "We'll have to assess the situation at that time."
Residents at Oceanwalk Villas, which shares a wall with the annex, said they hope the town follows through.
"The town has given the owners every opportunity to correct a property that has undermined the future of Oceanwalk and the surrounding community," resident Bruce Bartow said. "This ultimatum is long overdue."
Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.