Hamilton city government may sell city building to generate money for projects

Hamilton city leaders are considering selling the city government tower — 345 High St. — as a way to generate money for several projects, mainly the Spooky Nook at Champion Mill gigantic indoor sports complex and convention center.

In a report to Hamilton City Council written by Finance Director David Jones and forwarded by City Manager Joshua Smith, the officials recommended selling the building to the Hamilton Community Authority. The city then would lease the building back from the authority until no later than the year 2049.

“The city will remain responsible for repairs and maintenance costs related to 345 High Street in accordance with the lease,” according to the memo.

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The sale price is expected to range somewhere from $24.65 million to the appraised value of $26.7 million. The community authority would borrow for several projects and use the pledged rent payments from the city to repay the borrowed funds.

Communities like St. Louis, Oakland and Akron have used similar arrangements to generate funds for projects, according to Jones and Smith.

“In Hamilton’s case, the sale will provide a refinancing mechanism to provide capital for a number of one-time projects,” the memo from Jones and Smith states.

The funds from the sale could finance several projects, according to the documents:

  • $10 million to pay off the existing debt on the city building (41 percent of the arrangement's proceeds)
  • $8 million for Spooky Nook development costs (32 percent)
  • $1.2 million for improvements to North B Street related to the Spooky Nook project (5 percent)
  • $3.5 million for a Spooky Nook forgivable loan to the project (14 percent)
  • $1.75 million for a Gilmore Road roundabout (7 percent)
  • $200,000 in "miscellaneous capital" (1 percent)

Members of city council, asked by this media outlet Monday to express their opinions about the proposed arrangement, did not immediately respond for comment.

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The council last week authorized city administrators to prepare legislation to move ahead with the plan. The legislation is to be considered at council’s next two meetings, on Feb. 13 and Feb. 27.

Members of the Hamilton Community Authority, which had an organizational meeting in December, were not immediately available.

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