City to buy old armory

The Bainbridge City Council has approved the purchase of the Marvin Griffin National Guard Armory, which currently sits vacant on Louise Street, for a price not to exceed $120,000.

In 2011, the Army National Guard consolidated its operations and moved the transportation unit that was based in Bainbridge to Thomasville, Ga., City Manager Chris Hobby explained to the council.

The City of Bainbridge originally donated the land on which the former armory sits to the State of Georgia in 1952. The plan is to use the property as a Public Safety station in southern Bainbridge, Hobby said Tuesday.

The Georgia Department of Defense recently declared the property surplus, at the same time stipulating that the former armory would have to remain in public use forever. Hobby said state officials have indicated they will transfer the property back to the city for $120,000, which is the amount remaining on a bond issue the state took out several years ago to make improvements.

 

Property 

The former brick armory building, located at 501 Louise St., was built in 1955 and is 18,925 square feet. The building has a galvanized steel roof and a concrete floor, so Public Safety could immediately use a 60-feet-by-90-feet central bay to park fire trucks in, including the large ladder apparatus truck.

According to the Decatur County Tax Assessor’s Office, the 2.61-acre property is valued at $418,211. Hobby said he believes the city government is getting a significant bargain because the property’s actual market value could be much higher due to its location and its “very good” condition.

Hobby said Public Safety Headquarters could be moved to the former armory as soon as desired; there are 15 office rooms inside the building and plenty of space to house records and equipment.

If BPS Headquarters were to move to Louise Street, which connects to Tallahassee Highway and South West Street, the current headquarters on East Shotwell Street could be used as a satellite fire station. In the long term, the City Council could opt to sell the property commercially, Hobby said.

Putting a fire station in southern Bainbridge was one of several recommendations in an ISO insurance study the city commissioned several years ago, Hobby said. Putting a station on Louise Street, along with the possession of a ladder-equipped fire truck for large fires, could help the city lower property insurance costs for residents. BPS also has a backup fire station on Spring Creek Road in West Bainbridge.

 

The armory’s name

The late Marvin Griffin, a Bainbridge native, was lieutenant governor of Georgia at the time the armory was built and had formerly served as the adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard from 1944 to 1947, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia. Griffin was the state’s first lieutenant governor, from 1948-1954, and later served as Georgia’s governor, from 1955 to 1959.

During World War II, Griffin enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he commanded a unit in the South Pacific, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia. He eventually attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.

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