Land Bank now holds deed to old Wagner Building

One step closer to demolition

By Shannon Bohle - [email protected]

SIDNEY — During their January meeting, the Shelby County Land Reutilization Corporation commonly known as the Shelby County Land Bank) reported it acquired the deed to the old Wagner building.

The Wagner Manufacturing Company produced well-known cast iron and aluminum products at its Sidney location until shuttering its doors in 1952. The property’s last known owners were Master Vision Polishing, which abandoned the property in 2008 without engaging in a building demolition or site cleanup.

The building, now dilapidated and falling, and the land polluted with toxic chemicals, is slated for future demolition and cleanup as a brownfield site before the land can be repurposed.

Beyond its mandate to clean up the community by eliminating blighted residential buildings, the Land Bank stepped up to provide additional assistance for this commercial property of special community concern.

The Land Bank acquired ownership over the Wagner building and property on Jan. 26, 2022.

At that time, it also assumed massive liability and financial responsibilities — responsibilities in which the community needs to be aware because of the huge effort the Wagner property undertaking will require.

With the Land Bank’s recent acquisition of the Wagner building comes fiduciary responsibility for potential accidents or injuries to people on the property. That is why the Land Bank has posted signs on the property for safety reasons. To make matters more complicated, the Land Bank was recently informed by their existing insurance carrier that they will not insure the Wagner building. This will place an additional burden on the Land Bank to quickly find a new insurance carrier to provide insurance for the Wagner building and property.

In addition to insurance headaches, the Wagner site cleanup will also be a major financial undertaking.

A $2.8 million grant was submitted at the end of last year, on Dec. 20, 2021, to help cover the expected $4.5 million for property demolition. However, no news regarding a decision on that application has yet arrived. Another grant application is in the works, and it is expected that the final portion of this second grant funding application will be completed and submitted by the end of February.

These funds will simply carry out the building’s demolition. Additional brownfield funding will need to be acquired to cover the property’s toxic chemical cleanup. Brownfield cleanup is required before the property can be re-utilized to serve as a benefit to the community, rather than a blight upon it. Currently, the property is intended for “mixed use,” but will be more specifically defined as the Land Bank progresses through the revitalization process.

Doug Ahlers, director of the Land Bank, gave a power point presentation summarizing the Land Bank’s improvement and community revitalization plans, including their plans for the Wagner property, to Sidney City Council members during their meeting held on Feb. 14, 2022.

In reviewing the information for the month of December 2021, we had income of $4.24, which was interest on our passbook savings account. Total expenses for the month were $3,629.60, of which $1,226.18 were program expenses, with the balance being administrative costs.

In additional news during this meeting, during the month of December 2021, the Land Bank did not carry out any new demolitions. However, two properties previously identified as possible acquisitions were demolished by their owners recently with no expense to the Land Bank. Likewise, no residential acquisitions occurred during the month of January.

Looking forward, an existing Land Bank property, located at 411 Sixth Avenue in Sidney, which has several major structural issues, will likely be demolished. Seven residential properties are in foreclosure. These include four in Sidney, and one each in Anna, Botkins, and Port Jefferson. Another potential property acquisition has been identified on River Road, which could be donated back to the Park District to become part of the bicycle path. The Land Bank is continuing to look for eligible properties to acquire and other ways to continue to improve the residential areas of our communities and Shelby County as a whole.

In review, the Land Bank has acquired a total of 103 units. Of these units, 76 were demolished, and 34 were sold or donated.

Below is a breakdown by city or township properties:

• Sidney, 82 acquired (10 sold, seven donated*)

• Fort Loramie, one acquired (one donated)

• Jackson Center, one acquired (one donated)

• Lockington, one acquired (one donated)

• Maplewood, one acquired

• Port Jefferson, four acquired (two sold)

Below is a breakdown of 13 county properties:

• Cynthian Township, one acquired (one sold)

• Dinsmore Township, two acquired (two sold)

• Franklin Township, two acquired (one sold)

• Green Township, two acquired (one sold, one donated)

• Loramie Township, one acquired (one sold)

• McLean Township, two acquired (two sold)

• Salem Township, three acquired (three sold)

Of note, the property at 323 South Miami, Sidney, was deeded to Holy Angels/Cincinnati Archdiocese on Jan. 13, 2022. Also, the ALPHA Center property, which had six rental units on their property, which the Land Bank demolished, was returned to the ALPHA Center after the demolition was completed.

A review of the Land Bank’s finances in budget included a checking account balance at the end of January 2022 of $308,939.29 (with no outstanding checks), and a savings account balance of $250,017.92. The total held in both accounts totals $558,957.21. Finally, the Land Bank is willing to be the bankers for the Revolving Loan Fund OEC 1724 and has no activity to report on this loan currently.

The next two regular Land Bank meetings will be held at 1:30 p.m. on March 15, 2022, and then on April 19, 2022, in the Commissioners’ meeting room.

One step closer to demolition

By Shannon Bohle

[email protected]