By Linda Dillman
Property owned by Canal Winchester on West Waterloo Street, that once housed an old gas station and a neighboring health care business, may soon see new life after action taken by Canal Winchester City Council.
During its March 4 meeting, council was introduced to an emergency ordinance negotiating a demolition agreement with Franklin County’s Central Ohio Community Improvement Corporation for a vacant and blighted house at 26 W. Waterloo St.
The property was purchased by the city in September 2017 for $144,352 with the intent of redeveloping the site together with an adjoining property where the county demolished a former gas station under a similar agreement.
“It will make the entire property more marketable,” said Councilwoman Jill Amos.
Development Director Lucas Haire said the city is working with the COCIC to demolish and remediate the site. The corporation is not charging Canal Winchester for the service.
“It is likely there is asbestos in the house and remediation of that can be quite costly,” said Haire.
Councilman Patrick Lynch wanted to make sure the city was not giving people the impression they were pushing the demolition through the system under the emergency process.
According to Haire, the reason for the emergency language is eminent redevelopment, a fundamental step, and the driving force behind pursuing demolition—a month’s long process. While not required, the city is also presenting the plan to the Landmarks Commission as a courtesy.
“The timing of this is about three months from the county’s end,” Haire said, “and even more if there is abatement. We typically don’t allow any demolition unless there is a redevelopment plan.”
Haire said there is active interest by a developer in turning the two-parcel site into a mixed-use, multi-story project with residential units above commercial space below.
“We should have an application before Landmarks at their March 25 meeting,” said Haire.
In Nov. 2008, after a decades-long struggle, the gas station site—built in 1975—was demolished with hopes it would serve as an example of cooperative redevelopment between the county and the city.
The crumbling structure was removed and village crews smoothed out the surface. Underground storage tanks were left in place because funding was not available at the time to remove them. They were later taken out by the county in late 2013.
Council was told by then Franklin County Treasurer Ed Leonard in 2007 that, although the county worked with the prosecutor to get the distressed property sold at a sheriff’s sale, there were no bidders. Franklin County then assumed ownership from the original owner and turned it over to the COCIC.
The Ohio EPA issued a No Further Action letter in regard to the site clean-up.
The COCIC spent $283,564 for environmental testing and remediation, nearly half of which was reimbursed through a United States EPA grant. The city spent approximately $21,990 for demolition, sidewalk repair and tree removal.
The agreed purchase price was $75,000. However, at closing, the county credited the city against the purchase price for funds Canal Winchester previously expended.