Township fights to tear down apartments

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By Amanda Amsel
Staff Writer

Prairie Township went to court this past week to fight a temporary restraining order to tear down apartments that township officials say have become a blight on the community.

Showgates, LLC and Windgate, LLC filed a temporary restraining order against the township to delay the process of tearing down 17 of their apartment buildings on the westside of the Metro West apartment complex.

“These apartments are not suitable for anyone to live in and would need to have major renovations done to restore them,” said Tracy Hatmaker, Prairie Township administrator. “This has been an issue for sometime and the owners of these apartments have been given many opportunities to rectify these issues.”

According to a press release by the township, in July 2013 Prairie Township trustees notified the property owners that they needed to demolish the buildings or fix the many issues plaguing the buildings. This course of action was agreed upon after the trustees received a report from the township’s chief building official and the fire marshall, saying the buildings were unsound and not safe.

After several reported delays by the owners, an agreement was signed by them stating that they would start the demolition of the buildings on Dec. 17, 2013. That date has since passed and the owners have not taken action.

As a result of this, the township is seeking action to demolish the property. The  demolition, which could cost up to $2 million, would then be added on to the owner’s property taxes.

“The hearing is to try to stop us from taking the first steps in the demolition process,” Hatmaker said. “Our hope is to reach an agreement with the owners and to have them take responsibility for their property.”

According to Hatmaker, the restraining order was lifted at the hearing, the case will go into mediation and the township will take the necessary steps to start the demolition process.

“We first would need to remove the asbestos and then demolition would start in a few weeks,” Hatmaker said.

The money to demolish the property will come from the Ohio Community Improvement Corporation and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Moving Ohio Forward grant.

According to township officials, this portion of Metro West apartments has been plagued with issues since 2004, when a fire took place and killed 10 people. The properties have been vacant for at least four years.

The building owners could not be reached for comment before press time.

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