Aberdeen resident 'heartbroken' to learn home will be razed for shopping center

The first hint Sonnie Soter got that her home of nine years was to be torn down was when a contractor came by Aug. 18.

"They said, 'We are here to clean a septic tank out. We are here to remove it,'" Soter recalled.

When she said she hadn't heard anything about septic work needing to be done, the contractor told her the house was to be demolished.

Since then, Soter said she and her husband, Steven, have been shocked to learn their home is in the way of a retail-and-hotel complex planned for a strip of vacant homes parallel to Route 22, around the corner from her house.

The owner of Aberdeen's Holiday Inn Express and Olive Tree restaurant hopes to build a shopping center of at least 48,000 square feet off Route 22, along with a Hyatt hotel.

Holiday Inn general manager Tammy Lowry-Gault, however, said the Soters' home will not be torn down this month and they were given prior notice.

"I will confirm that we are not set to demolish 945 Gilbert Road this month, I told the tenant that," Lowry-Gault said via email Thursday. "The tenant was told that we will give her a 60-day notice to vacate. However, based on the lease we only have to give 30 days. We added an extra 30 days. The tenant still hasn't received our 60-day notice, so until she receives it, the 60 days hasn't started."

Lowry-Gault said earlier this month the homes along Route 22 could be torn down within 30 days.

"I still don't know how I am to proceed," Soter said, adding they have had a month-to-month lease and hadn't received notice about the demolition. "It's horrible because we were a good tenant."

Soter, who shares the house with dogs and a 19-year-old son, said she just wants "a little time" to move and to potentially get her security deposit back.

Soter wrote later in an email that she and her family feel "lost and forgotten."

She noted her husband's company closed its doors after he worked there for 16 years and both became jobless within three months of each other.

"We made it through all that and it was [scary]," she wrote. "What these two owners[,] previous and new[,] don't understand is us 'blue collar workers['] are the back bones of [their] success."

Soter wrote she is "just so heartbroken and stressed."

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