As soon as word hit the streets a week ago about the STAR House property on North Fifth Avenue going on the market, Devon Smyth and Claudia Hamilton were inundated with inquiries.
“Our phones rang off the hook after the paper came out,” said Smyth, executive director of William S. Davies Homeless Shelter, about the Rome News-Tribune story first published online the night of Jan. 3.
Smyth said they now have four or five interested buyers for the 7,500-square-foot, three-story structure built more than 60 years ago.
They will be taking best and final written offers until noon on Jan. 31 through firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or by calling Smyth at Davies Shelter at 706-802-6300 or Hamilton at 706-204-8710.
“We’re very happy to chat with anyone interested,” Smyth said, adding they have not had the property appraised yet.
Smyth and LivingProof Executive Director Claudia Hamilton decided to sell the bricked-over structure in the River District that had served for the past 48 years as a residential treatment facility for those struggling with alcohol dependency.
Smyth said they felt the building in its current state no longer fits in with the city’s vision of a vibrant arts district across the Oostanaula River from downtown Rome.
They will use the proceeds of the sale for new extended-stay supportive housing projects in Lindale for men and women needing peer-based recovery services.
This was all made possible after the Dicky Starnes board of directors made the decision at the end of 2019 to transfer the STAR House deed to Davies Shelter and LivingProof in the hopes they would use the facility for similar substance misuse rehabilitation purposes.
STAR House had struggled financially for the past several years under longtime director Wayne Smithson, who had worked tirelessly without a salary using the Alcoholics Anonymous model since 1982.
Dicky Starnes Board Chair John Burnes said the board felt it was necessary to hand over STAR House operations after finding out last fall they were losing their funding from United Way of Rome-Floyd County. They had depended on the funding for more than half of their budget.
In its heyday, STAR House had served up to 25 men with alcohol dependency who had just come out of Floyd County Jail detox and needed a place to go.
There also was a women’s wing at one point, but over the years the number of those living there has steadily declined as addictions became more complex with the spread of the opioid epidemic, Burnes pointed out.
Burnes said he felt the property is probably worth about $400,000.