Area cities demolishing multiple old industrial buildings for safety, possible redevelopment

Multiple area communities are pursuing demolition projects to clear industrial or commercial buildings for future development or battle blight from vacant homes.

One major project in Franklin includes the planned demolition of the former Franklin Boxboard plant. Middletown-based Cohen took out demolition permits from the city of Franklin on May 21, according to City Engineer Barry Conway.

MORE: Cohen Recycling closing, demolishing Franklin facility, Boxboard site.

Nick Oldfield, Cohen’s vice president of marketing, said the company has not set a start date but it is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

Cohen purchased the building at 50 E. Sixth St. in November 2017 from B.P. Logan, LLC. The former paper factory was adjacent to its recycling operation that it purchased from Mindlin Recycling, 666 Riley Blvd., in September 2017. The company initially had plans to renovate the former century-owned Mindlin operation and added the broad base of metal and electronics recycling to the existing cardboard and paper capabilities.

The company announced in November 2018 that both buildings will be demolished this spring.

Franklin Boxboard ceased operations in 2011. The building was purchased by B.P. Logan LLC, but never reopened.

MORE: This Middletown elementary school’s winding path could soon end in demolition

In March, Middletown officials said they are planning to demolish the former Lincoln School, 2402 Central Ave. later this year. The city acquired the building through the county land bank in July 2018 after the state was unable to sell it for back taxes.

In another tax forfeiture case, the former Middletown Paperboard plant off Ohio 4/South Verity Parkway, is heading to a sheriff’s sale sometime after Aug. 1, according to Butler County Treasurer Nancy Nix. The previous owner, B.P. Logan, LLC, owed $259,565 in delinquent real estate taxes.

On April 16, Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Howard issued a default judgment on a foreclosure request. The court issued an order of sale to sell the property, which consists of 61 parcels of various sizes, for no less than $261.550.

The former paper factory was the site of a February 2018 fire that was ruled as an arson.

“Long term, Lincoln School and the Paperboard building represent two of the last large demolitions remaining in the city,” said City Manager Doug Adkins. “The Paperboard building has been difficult to secure after the fire and it does not represent well the entrance to the city on (Ohio) Route 4.”

He said, as with all public things, finding the dollars for demolition will take time and planning. Adkins said there are multiple structures on those parcels, and there may be remediation required after demolition is completed.

Adkins said these demolition projects are necessary to prepare these open sites for future development is part of the proposed housing plan and city master plan. He also said projects such as the paperboard site could require a five-to-10 year completion time frame due to the high costs of demolition and remediation.

The Paperboard site is also adjacent to the Oakland neighborhood, which Middletown is targeting for redevelopment. Also adjacent to the neighborhood is the former Vail Middle School site that has been cleared for future development by the Middletown City School District.

Jennifer Ekey, Middletown economic development director, said the Paperboard site will be listed in the city’s new master plan as a special interest area due to its proximity to the Oakland Neighborhood and because it’s a likely brownfield site.

“The Paperboard site is a separate project from the Oakland Neighborhood project, but it’s related in the idea that it’s adjacent to that development,” she said. “We want to make sure that the redevelopment of that property is sensitive to the neighborhood.”

In Hamilton, there are 100 vacant commercial and industrial structures, according to Tom Vanderhorst, executive director of external services.

Vanderhorst said “we need to be careful as a community on how we address these buildings, considering many of them are historic and contribute significantly to Hamilton’s identity. While some may be demolished over time, others could turn into adaptive reuse projects that unlock their potential.”

He noted projects such as the Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill, the Mercantile Lofts, and the Robinson-Schwenn Building as examples of reuse and redevelopment successes.

Vanderhorst said that “many developers look at vacant buildings as an opportunity for redevelopment rather than as something that needs demolished, so getting these buildings into the right hands is an important goal. We expect our journey in reducing the number of vacant structures will be a combined improve/remove strategy. Saving significant historic structures will be our first priority where reuse and redevelopment is feasible.”

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