Update given on Ohio Building

By Sheryl Roadcap - [email protected]

SIDNEY — The Sidney City Council heard an update Monday on the Ohio Building during its teleconference workshop session.

City Manager Mark Cundiff provided council members with a PowerPoint presentation recapping actions taken on the Ohio Building to date, the results of a structural engineer’s August 2020 assessment of the building and what needs to be completed in 2021.

The Ohio Building has been vacant since 2010. It previously had title issues and out of state owner before the city took ownership, Cundiff reminded council. After an April 2017 vote which council authorized for the city to acquire the building, an expedited foreclosure process began, and the property was transferred to city ownership on July 6, 2017.

Cundiff noted in 2015 an assessment on the building was conducted and it was determined a whole new roof was needed, after numerous patch jobs, and also the basement needed shoring-up under the sidewalk.

Since the city has taken ownership, a new roof has been installed, damaged wood structural elements and masonry damage has been repaired or replaced.

The costs for the Ohio Building to date include the following:

• 2016 — $16,979.00;

• 2017 — $13,979.68;

• 2018 — $60,179.47;

• 2019 — $481,697.85;

• 2020 — $84,923.97 — $440,000 budgeted, but COVID-19 cuts resulted in a reduction;

• Total through Feb. 1, 2021 — $657,759.97.

Two main concerns were revealed in the August 2020 structural evaluation: the basement wall and ceiling slab (front sidewalk area) needed immediate attention, and the connections at top or bottom of floors have issues. Otherwise the building is in stable condition, Cundiff said of the assessment.

A report by CityVisions’ found the first floor for retail and mix of office/residential uses on the upper floors is desirable. CityVisions Associates, a downtown developer/consultant, out of Louisville, Kentucky, has been working with Sidney-Shelby Economic Partnership and Sidney Alive to help strategize the vision for downtown.

“These are folks that have done a lot of renovations, so they know what they are doing and they understand the economics of it,” Cundiff said of CityVisions.

The CityVisions’ report said the building needs to be completely gutted and to rebuild the interior spaces, which adds significant cost to the redevelopment. This will also likely limit the use of historic tax credits, he said, because the exterior of a historic building cannot be altered to be eligible for such tax credits.

The conditions are not uncommon, Cundiff noted, but a strong public/private partnership will be needed to make it economically feasible.

The next steps going forward include:

• The full CityVisions report will be presented at council Feb. 22 meeting;

• Cost estimate for work needed beneath sidewalk and bid project;

• Supplemental appropriation ordinance;

• Cost estimate for redevelopment to retail and office/residential mix;

• Identify funding sources and potential private sector partners.

There has been a couple of interested investors, but because the amount they estimated to redevelop the Ohio Building is likely in the $7.1 to $7.8 million range, it will take a public partnership to help fund the project, Cundiff said.

In other business at the end if the meeting, Mayor Mike Barhorst shared a recent inquiry he received from a resident questioning why the city is moving forward with required sidewalk repairs for homeowners in the time of COVID-19. Barhorst responded that it is a lengthy processes throughout the 18 areas across town, over 18 year period, and repairs are necessary to avoid tripping hazards. Also he said is currently unaware of any homeowner who had claimed financial hardship due to unemployment from the pandemic.

By Sheryl Roadcap

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.