Hamilton buys 2 properties in Main Street area primed for development

Members of Hamilton City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to buy the empty, grass-covered lots at 509 and 515 Main St. so the city controls the properties that are next to a building for which the city has been trying to find a developer.

The price will be about $30,000 for the properties that were among several auctioned as part of the estate of the late Hamilton dermatologist Dr. Louis Luke Barich.

The city unsuccessfully sought proposals for its building at 501 Main St., which is located at the southwest corner of Main and F streets, during the summer of 2018. The city bought that property for $30,000 in 2017 through a sheriff’s sale. The properties council voted to buy this week are immediately west of that.

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Council took the vote without discussing why the city wanted to buy the properties, or plans for them.

City Manager Joshua Smith on Thursday said the two properties Hamilton is buying were part of the auction, but the city did not bid on them or any others, because, “We did not want to compete with any interested parties.”

Afterward, “the auction company contacted the city and indicated the property was still available for the minimum bid,” Smith said, so the city decided to buy it.

“Main Street has begun to experience a resurgence, similar to what happened in the past 10 years on High Street,” Smith said. “By controlling the lots and the structure at 501 Main Street, it allows the city to help with the redevelopment of a key intersection.”

Owners of businesses across the street have expressed hope that a development on those properties could benefit their operations.

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Dan Bates, president and CEO of the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, was pleased with the city’s decision to buy the properties.

“I would think that the first thing would be just to preserve it for future development, and see how that evolves,” Bates said. “Those could be anything: They could be additional entertainment/restaurant locations or they could be parking spaces, or they could be residential.”

“I don’t know, maybe the city has a plan for them,” Bates added. “But whether they do or not, I think it’s very smart for them to secure them, and then work them into future planned growth.”

Just up the street, Hamilton officials in recent weeks have announced two new restaurant developments that are on the way — Fretboard Brewing & Public House, a micro-brewery’s second location (the original is in Blue Ash) at 103 Main St., which could open as soon as mid-November; and Billy Yanks, which is planned to open at 201 Main St. in the spring.

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Hamilton proponents envision more economic growth along Main Street because of the under-construction Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill, to open in 2021.

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