Editorial: Town should demolish hazardous hotel building

Tear it down.

That's the only appropriate response a Town of Hilton Head Island board can give to the question of what to do about the annex building behind the Metropolitan Hotel.

The structure on Lemoyne Avenue is not only an abandoned eyesore -- which doesn't distinguish it from several other buildings around town -- it's also unsafe. The roof is caving in and wires aredangling. Town inspector Bob Klein declared it a public safety hazard in 2013.

Meanwhile, Forest Beach property owners have long worried about the building's effect on their property values and the vagrants who use crowbars and screwdrivers to pry into the building.

Phone calls about crime near the area has caused the sheriff's office to step up patrols.

The town's Construction Board of Adjustments and Appeals will vote Jan. 27 on whether to knock it down, coax the owners into renovating it or take no action at all. The board has the final say.

We see no point in making another futile attempt to convince the owners to make repairs. They have allowed the building to sit vacant since 2008. While they promised to submit a construction plan by Dec. 4, they failed to do so. Additional time is unlikely to result in an improved outcome.

And taking no action is unfair to nearby property owners and businesses. It also makes a poor impression on tourists, the island's life blood.

"Having a poorly maintained and vacant property attached to our building continues to undermine Oceanwalk's future," said Bruce Bartow, former board president of Oceanwalk Villas, which shares a wall with the annex building.

If town leaders are truly dedicated to redevelopment efforts as they claim to be, this is an easy decision. The building is hazardous, an important distinction from other buildings, including the half-finished, abandoned building at Edgewater condominiums, that are also unsightly but not unsafe. The designation gives town leaders the necessary legal cover to swing the wrecking ball. And its owners have effectively written off the building and are unlikely to raise a fuss.

So tear it down. Maybe someone interested in building a new structure that would be a community asset will come calling.