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Former Ohio Casualty building in Hamilton may become hotel

The former Ohio Casualty complex of buildings may become a hotel — a commodity that will be needed to serve the planned Spooky Nook at Champion Mill indoor sports complex and convention center. Or it may become offices, residences and a hotel, the building’s ownership group said.

“That’s something that we’re looking at doing,” said Justin Lichter, vice president of Los Angeles-based IRG, Industrial Realty Group LLC. “We have our eyes and ears out, in case anybody’s interested, but we’re also looking at doing multiple things with the site.”

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“We think there’s a lot of opportunities, so we’re looking at whatever would best suit the city, and what the market may demand,” Lichter said. “We feel like offices would be a natural fit, because that’s what it is now, but there’s a lot of office space in the market, so we can keep some office, and maybe some residential, and maybe some hotel.”

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The company during September’s State of the City speech unveiled what the complex, rebranded as “Third + Dayton” for its location, could look like as an updated office complex. The former insurance buildings contain about 450,000 square feet of space and once housed 1,000 employees.

“We’ve had a number of meetings with developers that are from the area about the building,” said Jody Gunderson, Hamilton’s economic development director. “Many of them are doing their due diligence as well. The Spooky Nook project, and I think it will be obvious later on, it’ll be a catalyst to development in and around the site.”

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“So I look at this as, I’m not sure exactly when they’ll jump in, or who’ll jump in, but there’s no doubt in my mind that project (Spooky Nook) is very catalytic.”

“We’re looking at all the details, and trying to do some space planning, so we can understand how it would all fit together,” Lichter said.

Gunderson agreed with Lichter that multiple uses for the complex might be best: “That particular site has a lot of building, and I think it could easily be a mixed-use development,” he said. “Whereas there are other areas along the riverfront as well that I think there are opportunities as well for similar development.”

He said the company is enthusiastic about the movement it sees in Hamilton lately: “We’re excited about the sport complex,” he said. “There’s a lot going on, and a lot of excitement, and activity, and great things happening. We’re excited to be a part of it.”

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“We’re not limiting at all,” Lichter said. “We’re open to anything. If there’s any interest, reach out, with anything, because we try to swim downstream and take the path of least resistance. Obviously, it’s easier to do things with users lined up and people in tow.”

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