Middletown eyeing several high-profile vacant properties for future housing

The Central Avenue property where Roosevelt Elementary School once stood could be marketed for possible luxury single-family homes to market-rate multi-family townhouses or apartments. Middletown officials are looking at several large city-owned properties to convent new housing opportunities to attract people to live in the city. FILE PHOTO
The Central Avenue property where Roosevelt Elementary School once stood could be marketed for possible luxury single-family homes to market-rate multi-family townhouses or apartments. Middletown officials are looking at several large city-owned properties to convent new housing opportunities to attract people to live in the city. FILE PHOTO

Middletown is considering options for new housing at sites that were once schools, a retail store and a hospital.

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“The very best economic development strategies are almost always place-based and market-based,” said City Manager Jim Palenick. “We have to maximize resources to where we have the maximum opportunity for success.”

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Palenick identified several potential sites for new infill housing sites. Those sites include:

  • The vacant former Middletown Regional Hospital site of 14.7 acres on McKnight Drive
  • The vacant former Roosevelt School site of 6.5 acres on Central Avenue
  • The former Lincoln School site of 5.7 acres on Central Ave. The city has plans to demolish the building in late April.
  • The vacant former Vail/Middletown Middle School site contains 10.04 acres on Girard Avenue that has been planned as part of the Oakland redevelopment project. In 2020, the city and developers were exploring housing to be built there including three-bedroom loft homes, three- to four-bedroom townhouses, condominiums and row-houses from 1,500 to 2,400 square-feet.
  • The vacant former Swallen’s lot of 1.3 acres at South Canal Street and Manchester Avenue
  • The former Manchester Hotel site on Manchester Avenue which is in litigation in Butler County Common Pleas Court over the question of ownership
  • The vacant former AK Steel Headquarters site on Curtis Street
Map of possible infill housing locations in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED/CITY OF MIDDLETOWN
Map of possible infill housing locations in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED/CITY OF MIDDLETOWN

Palenick envisions homes and apartments for the former hospital site, the former Roosevelt and Lincoln school sites.

He said the Manchester Inn redevelopment site and the Swallen’s lot could become housing and possible mixed use. The former Vail site could be used for multi-family housing, he said.

Mayor Nicole Condrey suggested finding developers to design homes with a focus to accommodate people who will be working from home as that continues to increase as a result of the pandemic.

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Palenick said future development of the city-owned First National Bank Building downtown is on hold until the privately-owned Goetz Tower renovation into apartments is completed. He said the city should wait to see what the market does after the Goetz Tower is occupied before moving forward on redeveloping the First National Bank Building.

As for the former Middletown Paperboard site destroyed by fire last year, Palenick said it would take a lot of money to clear and remediate the site. He said the city will seek federal assistance to make the site developable.

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