SIDNEY — Rehabilitation may be on the way for the abandoned and deteriorating former Wagner Ware Manufacturing facility. Activities in seeking funding to redevelop the property were discussed during a presentation at the Monday evening Sidney City Council meeting.
Information about funding sources to redevelop the former Wager facility on Fair Road was given by Jim Hill, executive director of the Sidney-Shelby Economic Partnership, during his presentation on economic developments in Sidney.
The Wagner Ware site originally was the former foundry of the Wagner Manufacturing Company that produced cast iron and aluminum products until 1952. The building had several owners until the metal finishing manufacturer Master Vision Polishing closed the location in 2008. Prior to Master Vision Polishing pulling out in 2008, Community Development Director Barbara Dulworth said in 2016, there were already issues with the poor condition of the building. Afterward, it continued to deteriorate from neglect and vandalism.
Hill told council members Monday that on-site meetings were held with state and federal legislators so they could see the property in person. Lobbying efforts to obtain Congressional-directed spending dollars, which is still pending, had been conducted also.
As a part of the Ohio state capital budget, Hill said $1 million was earmarked for Sidney for the redevelopment of the former Wagner Manufacturing facility. The budget also included $1 in Brownfield funding for Shelby County, and an additional $500,000 for Landbank Revitalization. These funds may be available for use to redevelop the former Wagner Manufacturing facility, Hill said.
“Between those two programs, that’s $2 million that will be able to be able to be spent in the next year,” Hill said. “We do know it has to be spent within the next year or it will roll over to be spent by other communities who want to spend it more than we do. … It may happen in phases. We may not be able to do it all in one year, but with $2 million, we can make a huge dent.”
Hill thanked those who helped advocate for and helped to move forward the rehabilitation project of the Wagner site.
When asked for a timeline with the foreclosure of the property, Land Bank Executive Director Doug Ahlers said it will take some time as they are dealing with 26 tracks of land, opposed to typically one track in the foreclosure of a property. He noted it would take at least 90-120 days for the process to be completed.
During the call for public comments, Mick Given, board chairman of the Sidney-Shelby Economic Partnership and board chairman of the Sidney-Shelby Workforce Partnership, spoke on the project and thanked and praised Hill and city staff for their hard work. He also thanked City Council and Shelby County for its support financially.
“With this project … we meet all the time with city staff, and this has been a long drawn out process and an eye sore in this community for a long time. And I want to thank Jim here publicly, because this guy took it on and ran with it. … and we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for this guy,” Given said. “This is just another example of private industry and government entities working together to solve problems. It’s becoming more and more evident that that’s the way we have to go. We are getting success after success as we have been seeing them come. And we need to keep it going. We got to keep working together and figure out ways to fund those pieces of the puzzle that we don’t have yet. And I think this momentum can just keep going and going.”
Council members Steve Wagner and Darryl Thurber thanked Hill and others involved for taking on the project and getting it moving forward.