Hamilton buying Beckett Paper site for $1.5M, offering it for $1 to developers

Hamilton City Council on Wednesday authorized the purchase of the approximately 8.3-acre former Beckett Paper Co. site for $1.5 million. Council next month will vote on whether to sell 6.7 acres of that land to a developer for $1, in exchange for the company spending $50 million to build a 250-apartment complex.

The city hopes to develop the remaining parts of the Beckett property in other ways — keeping the parts of the property that are south of Dayton Street and east of the CSX railroad tracks. The developer would own the majority of the site, north of Dayton Street and west of the tracks.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Council on Wednesday suspended its rules requiring that ordinances be discussed at two separate meetings, and voted 7-0 to approve the purchase from Simfall, LLC, which is based in Lockport, NY, near Niagra Falls, and has owned the property since 2015.

Council on Wednesday publicly considered the $1 sale and development agreement with Historic Beckett Lofts LLC. It plans to hold its second consideration of the sale, and vote on it, during its Jan. 12 meeting.

City Manager Joshua Smith said the developer will have a due-diligence period through May to work with their architects and historic consultants to make sure they can accomplish their financial goals, including obtaining historic tax credits.

The developer plans to apply for historic tax credits in April, Smith said, so, “they really have to know probably by March, because they would have to have everything submitted by early April, to see if they receive tax credits.”

The plan is for the company to close on the property in April or May, and would own that part of the site.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The company then would have 24 months to obtain building permits to start construction, and then would have 18 months “to finish the construction and get an occupancy permit,” Smith said. “So there are performance targets built into that development agreement.”

If Historic Beckett Lofts doesn’t meet those agreed-on deadlines, “the city has what’s known as a claw-back provision that we can take the property back,” Smith told council. “Obviously, what we want is for them to perform. We want them to invest over $50 million, build over 250 market-rate apartment units and whatever else may come out of their architectural process.”

City administrators entered an agreement to purchase the property June 22, when Tom Vanderhorst, executive director of external affairs, agreed to the purchase for the $1.5 million. He signed it while acting temporarily as the city manager. Smith signed an amended agreement for the purchase on Oct. 11.

The company in 2017 wanted to demolish the former paper mill, but Smith met with a company representative and talked them out of it.

ExploreRazing request for former Hamilton paper mill on hold

Historic Beckett Lofts, based in Canton, filed its articles of incorporation with the state on Nov. 24. Efforts to contact the developer were unsuccessful.

Smith said the developers also want to develop surrounding land, but haven’t determined what they want to do with it yet. The city will keep what’s known as the armory building, which is south of Dayton, and is keeping the parking-lot substation land east of the CSX tracks.

Those are both developable sites that the city also would like to activate, Smith said.

The Beckett property is near where three city neighborhoods meet: the downtown, German Village and historic Dayton Lane. It’s also close to the North End neighborhood.

The Butler County Historical Society believes Beckett Paper was the first paper mill built west of the Allegheny mountains.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

About the Author