Commissioners remain in favor of razing Gifford Gardens

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The Board of County Commissioners Tuesday reiterated its desire to raze the Gifford Gardens housing development despite a plea from a local resident that his company be allowed to restore the abandoned apartments.

Billy Hitchcox told commissioners his company, C&B Alternative solutions, Inc., would like to become the latest in a long line of developers who have taken over the property, which has deteriorated over time to the point where the Commissioners voted last month to demolish the buildings for the good of the community.

 

Hitchcox told commissioners he was ready to fence in the collection of six buildings that once housed a total of 55 one-, two- and three-bedroom units. He also said, based on his calculations, he had the financial backing and could begin restoration work before the end of January, which is the earliest date the county would be ready to begin demolition.

“We want to return this to something that is very profitable that benefits the community,” Hitchcox said.

Commissioners questioned some of the backup material Hitchcox provided, stating they did not think he had accounted for all the costs the project would require, noting that a number of landlords had come in only to abandon the project after they ran out of money.

“It is my desire to see the property torn down,” Commissioner Bob Solari said. “I see nothing from the bank to indicate that it is interested in doing anything. There is nothing to show me there is an entity that is has the capability of doing the renovation.”

Environmental Health Specialist Julianne Price, who has championed the demolition of the buildings, asked Hitchcox to sit down with her and go over her file on the history of the 50-year-old property.

“I think it would take over $2 million when you add in all the factors involved,” she said. “It is much more than the property is worth.”

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