13WMAZ did a past story about an old Macon hotel that is now being used as housing for transitioning veterans called Home Port. Now, the three partners that own Home Port are asking the Macon-Bibb County commission for $600,000.
George Brown is one of three partners working to renovate Home Port, and he describes the building as a disaster. Through donations and money that the three partners gave, Brown says home front now has 32 rooms that are updated and furnished.
“The whole building, including the roof, have to be renovated,” says Brown. Brown says they are asking each Macon-Bibb county commissioner for more than $60,000 of blight funds to complete the remaining 60 rooms and a training and counseling center. He says completing the center is their top priority. Brown says the center would allow veterans to get PTSD counseling, and there would be classrooms for them to take educational classes.
“If they cannot give us the $600,000 to complete the whole project, we would much rather have them give us the $200,000 or $20,000 from each commissioner for completion of this training and counseling center,” says Brown.
However, Commissioner Al Tillman says the building does not qualify for blight funding.
“Direct blight funds to a private business or entity I’m told by the attorney we can’t do that,” says Tillman.
One of the partners who is also the owner of the property, Venkat Sanjeev, says he was not aware of this.
“Maybe down the road we will put it under a different corporation,” says Sanjeev. He says he would do that to qualify for blight funding, but in the meantime all three owners are asking for any donations.
“Because this is a problem that’s germane to the entire city of Macon,” says Brown.
Tillman says if there is a legal way for him to help the veterans housing, he is all for it.