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Historic Building Remains Empty -- Sky Arnold

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Nashville, Tenn -- Padlocked with a chain off Union street in Nashville is a building that's eligible to be on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Ben West Library was originally built in 1966 and served Nashville until 2001 when the new library opened a few blocks away.

The building was a temporary city hall after that until it was abandoned in 2006.

Council Member Charlie Tygard has long seen it as a waste.

 "I could see many many business professionals retail uses for that location," said Tygard.

Instead the building is costing taxpayers thousands in upkeep.

According to Metro General Services the building incurs an average of $15,170 a year for utilities along with $9,230 for clean up work outside and another $4820 to clean the windows.

That adds up to more than $204 thousand over the last 7 years.

"If there's no reason to spend it and no productive reason for taxpayers to have the expense why do we have it," said Tygard.

As it turns out the reason why the building has stayed empty goes back a century to when the family originally gave the land up.

Under the initial deed, if the library is no longer used as a library it reverts back to the family.

Metro Law Director Saul Solomon says in just the last few months that family's heirs have come forward to negotiate a deal to alter the deed so the building can either find a new use for the city or developers.

"Nobody wants to see an empty building but these things happen from time to time and we're gonna take steps to remedy it," said Solomon.

In other words the building may not stay padlocked much longer but Tygard wonders why it took so long.

"Absolutely we should be out of there and should have acted on this sooner," said Tygard.