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Any ideas? Hamilton taking offers to develop this Main Street building

With Hamilton’s Main Street corridor poised to reap benefits of the proposed Spooky Nook at Champion Mill development, the city is making available for development a key property in that area.

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City officials are seeking proposals from developers and other business people who have ideas of how to develop the building at 501 Main St., at the southwest corner of Main and F streets.

A restaurant? Store? Apartments on the second story? Something completely different?

“It’s definitely an important corner,” said Lauren Gersbach, business development specialist for the city. “We would love to see the building be reactivated into something that could potentially be catalytic for the Main Street business corridor.”

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Hamilton is taking proposals from people who would like to purchase this city-owned building at 501 Main St. and develop it. The city purchased it last year at a sheriff’s sale for $30,000.  (MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF)

“We have, by direct email communication, sent (requests for proposals) out to a few hundred people,” Gersbach said.

The city also posted the property to a portal it uses to post other requests for proposals that are seen by many vendors.

“Word of mouth, we’re trying to spread it as wide as we can,” Gersbach said.

The offer of the building also is being posted via social media.

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Would-be buyers can suggest the prices they’re willing to pay. But possibly more important than the suggested purchase prices are how buyers would use the property, their financial ability to make their visions happen — and perhaps most critically, what the redevelopment can do to re-energize that area of Main Street.

Proposals are due Aug. 10. No timeline has been set for when the city will make a decision. City leaders reserve the right to reject all proposals without citing a reason.

The city bought the property for $30,000 last year through a sheriff’s sale.

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Nearby business owners expressed hope a new business at 501 Main St. would help with foot traffic past their shops.

“I think it’s excellent. It’s wonderful,” said Betty Stiver, owner of Health Foods on Main. She said she thinks it will not only help her store, but also lift up the quality of businesses in the immediate area.

When property owners in the area see money invested at 501 Main St., other investment will follow, Stiver said.

Brian LeVick, owner of Future Great Comics at 528 Main St., who also is president of the Main Street Area Association, said, “If something awesome goes in there, I think it’ll be a cornerstone for Main Street.”

He personally hopes for a nice restaurant, something he believes most would help his own business by drawing more people to the block.

“We’ll see what proposals we get back from people,” Gersbach said.

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The city has received inquiries about the property in recent months, Gersbach said.

“It could be a small-business owner who’s looking to open their own business in that location, and so they’re looking to purchase the building themselves and redevelop it,” she said. “We may also get some responses from people who are more developers — they’re not the small-business owners — who are looking to restore the building and then would be looking for tenants to lease out the commercial space on the first floor.”

Currently, the property is zoned commercial on the first floor and residential upstairs, although that could be changed.

People can submit proposals to, or receive more information from, Gersbach at lauren.gersbach@hamilton-oh.gov. They also can be sent to City of Hamilton, 345 High St., Suite 300, Hamilton, OH 45011.

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