Hamilton approves sale amid worries about Main Street building

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

A preservation group collected almost 400 signatures in favor of preserving a building at 310 Main St. before Hamilton City Council voted 7-0 on Wednesday to approve a development agreement and property sale that may lead to the building’s end.

It’s possible that developer Jim Cohen, who developed The Marcum project of apartments and retail locations downtown, can find a way to avoid destruction of the double residence built in 1911, said City Manager Joshua Smith.

CHAPS (Citizens for Historic and Preservation Services) of Butler County collected the signatures through change.org, and City Clerk Nick Garuckas told council most of the names came from Hamilton and surrounding areas. Two other people sent emails saying they felt it would be worth tearing down the residence if it makes way for more than 50 apartments.

“If council approves the development agreement tonight, that in no way indicates that you are for or against the demolition of the duplex,” Smith said. Instead, it provides time to explore options, he said.

Smith said he believes there are options to keep the house while still creating at least 50 upscale apartments and at least 75 off-stret parking spaces, with an estimated construction cost of between $6 million and $7 million.

Under the proposed agreement, Cohen would buy properties, including the residence, for $100, and the city would provide a development incentive of $75,000 to help with possible demolition, site work and other costs. The project would receive a 15-year tax abatement, as did The Marcum.

It’s important to have the apartments to support the new businesses moving into the Main Street area, Smith said. Among ways to avoid demolishing the residence would be increasing the apartment building from four levels to five. Vice Mayor Eric Pohlman wondered whether developers also could buy properties west of the duplex.

Smith said he hopes “to bring back an update, if not at the first, but the second meeting of council in September with some creative ideas on how we can preserve that duplex while still accomplishing what we need to accomplish, which in my mind is that 50-plus-unit apartment complex,” Smith said.

After the vote, Mayor Pat Moeller said, “I hope the option of keeping that is looked into. It could add to the character of that block, in kind-of a neat way.”

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