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$15M downtown Lebanon redevelopment delayed again, coronavirus blamed

The status of construction on the Berry Plaza Park at lunchtime Wednesday in Lebanon. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD
The status of construction on the Berry Plaza Park at lunchtime Wednesday in Lebanon. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD

Lebanon’s $15 million downtown redevelopment project is delayed again because of “the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic.”

On Tuesday night, Lebanon City Council unanimously approved an ordinance extending for the second time the deadlines by which the company formed by developer Jim Cohen for the project is to complete 18 condos, 84 apartments and 12,500 feet of commercial space to be built on and around the former city garage site just north of downtown.

In April, the council first extended the deadlines 90 days due to the impacts attributed to the new virus and government, consumer and business responses to it.

Now, Cohen has until the first of 2021 to break ground and June 1, 2023 to finish the job, according to the ordinance.

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The city is also holding off on some improvements it was to do to help the project, expected to extend the downtown business district and revitalize the city’s northern gateway.

“The city is moving forward with the construction of Berry Plaza Park. We are not going to do the streetscape improvements in front of 511 N. Broadway Ave. until the development project moves into the construction phase,” Lebanon City Manager Scott Brunka said in an email this morning.

The ordinance through which the city council supports the new dates also cites delays related to the “state stay-at home order on the project construction timeline.”

RELATED: 90-day extension for Lebanon redevelopment eyed since 2015

Cohen said he hoped to begin as soon as August and definitely by the first of 2021 after checking on pricing and with more than 100 subcontractors and suppliers involved in the project.

“Our hope is people are going to be ready to get going by the end of year,” he said. “As long as things are substantially the same, we’re ready to go.”

He said Catch-a-Fire Pizza, currently operating from the MadTree Brewing taproom in Cincinnati, still plans to be the first business in the development.

He said changes to the retail sector related to COVID-19 left uncertain the other businesses to move there.

“Things have changed dramatically in the retail segment,” Cohen said.

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