Michael “Andy” Maner said he was given 5970 Spring St., which includes a house, two sheds and a little less than a half-acre of land, valued by the Cobb County tax commissioner at $72,165, last week by his former next-door neighbor, Jim Cole.
Cole and his wife, Betty, moved to Tunnel Hill in 2005.
“We wanted a quieter place, so we went up to the hills and got a house up there,” Cole, 84, said at Monday’s Austell City Council.
He asked the city to take the house, which he called “an albatross,” as a donation.
“I have no use for it whatsoever,” Cole said. “It’s a drag on me to even worry about it.”
Mayor Joe Jerkins declined, citing the need to invest $100,000 in repairs to bring it up to code, with the potential of earning only $75,000 on a future sale.
“The city doesn’t have the money,” he said. “If we were to take it and tear it down, the historical people would be all over us.”
However, there was another option.
“You’ve got a neighbor you offered to give it to,” Jerkins said. “If you’re going to give it to him, all you need to do is get a deed.”
Cole and Maner lost no time: The deal went down Wednesday.
“He gave it to me for back taxes,” Maner said about 2009 to 2011 charges. “They were a whopping $66 a year.”
Maner has to pay late charges and penalties, which will bring the total to about $8,000, he said.
“They gave me 10 days to do that,” Maner said.
The Maners may own it free and clear before Thanksgiving, but it will be some time before the two-story brick cottage can host a holiday activity.
“We had looked at it six months ago, and it was pretty scary,” Maner said about the interior, which had been neglected since Cole and his wife, Betty, moved seven years ago.
Maner said the five bedrooms and two baths need “everything,” but he has a plan.
“We’re going to fix it. We’re going to try to do most of it ourselves with our friends,” he said.
Maner said the result may be “his-’n’-hers” houses.
“I’m going to let my wife (Kim) stay over here, and I’m going to stay over there,” he joked about 5982 Spring St.
While the Maners may not actually maintain separate residences, the fixer-upper will receive a lot of attention from his wife.
“This is going to be her deal,” he said. “I don’t argue with her. She doesn’t argue with me about cars.”
The new acquisition also will help Maner’s car part business, Anderson Power Train, housed on the property inherited from his father Gilbert in 2009, which is zoned for commercial use.
“I was afraid somebody would (buy 5970 Spring St.) and get angry with me, because I’m a car guy,” he said.
Acquiring real estate seems to be a trend for Maner, although he denied being a land baron.
“We also have a house in Smyrna. That’s where we originally lived,” he said about a home occupied by his son, Blake. “If I sell them all, I won’t have a whole lot of money.”
Their restoration efforts will help preserve a local landmark that is more than 100 years old, Maner said.
“To the best of my knowledge, this house was built in 1910,” he said. “They said the Austell Library was here once.”
Cole said the house is 14 years older than that, tracing its history to a mysterious visitor.
“An elderly gentleman stopped in and said he lived in it as a little boy,” he said after the meeting. “He said it was built in 1896.”
Regardless of its age, the house has a history of being a bargain.
In Maner’s paperwork for the deal is an agreement between Cole and the former owner, Mrs. Warner (Ruby) Beatty
“He actually bought the house for ‘$10 and other valuable considerations.’ This was in 1966,” Maner said.
Maner said other features caught his eye, like a fold-out ironing board tucked into a kitchen cupboard, hardwood floors, vintage Air Force Reserve recruitment posters — and a feathered neighbor.
“We have a pigeon that comes every year,” he said about a bird that makes its nest in the house’s outdoor porch light fixture. “I’d never seen a baby pigeon before. She’s been coming for three years. I guess we’ll leave it for right now.”
Cole said he was happy with the arrangement.
“I’m glad somebody’s got it that wants to do something with it,” he said.