Nuisance hotel in Hamilton to be demolished for manufacturer’s expansion

Hamilton Caster purchases Hamilton Inn property for expansion.

A Hamilton business that has been a crime problem in past years has been sold and city officials say the city is better for it.

The Hamilton Inn at 1767 Dixie Highway was purchased by next-door neighbor and longtime family-owned-and-operated company Hamilton Caster on Nov. 9 for $400,000, according to Butler County Auditor’s Office records.

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The hotel will be demolished as soon as environmental guidelines will allow and the property re-purposed with “a new facility to be determined,” according Dave Lippert, the company’s president since 1995 and an employee since 1982.

Hamilton Caster, which produces industrial wheels, casters, platform trucks and trailers, is “out of space and hampered” by its inability to accommodate growth, Lippert said. Building a new facility allows the company room for the equipment it wants to purchase and lays the framework for the foreseeable future, he said.

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Purchase of the hotel expands Hamilton Caster’s footprint from a little more than three acres to five acres.

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It also eliminates a problem property that generated an increasing amount of calls to the Hamilton Police Department.

In 2014, there were 102 calls for service to the Hamilton Inn, ranging from business checks and car accidents to harassment, drug deals, domestic violence, shots fired, overdoses and fights, according to Hamilton police records reviewed by the Journal-News.

In 2015, that number climbed to 195 calls for service, including robbery, rape, drugs and fights.

By the time of a July 2016 double stabbing and a shooting in Hamilton Inn’s parking lot, police calls for service had spiked to 273, according to police records.

That voluminous amount of police calls to the business prompted action by the city’s police department, which worked to crack down on illegal activity on the site.

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Hamilton Caster’s purchase of Hamilton Inn is “great news” for neighborhood residents and businesses, according to Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit.

“I know firsthand the blighting impact this place (Hamilton Inn) has had on the surrounding area and I couldn’t be happier with the effort of our people in helping get it shut down,” Bucheit said, labeling the Hamilton Inn closure “the latest in a series of successes” by his department to combat crime at problem properties.

Hamilton Caster employs 80 people and expects to hire more once its new facility opens, Lippert said.

While some of the company’s operations will move to the new factory, Hamilton Caster will not replace its main campus at 1637 Dixie Highway, which the 111-year-old company has used for the past 98 years.

“We’ve talked about expansion for at least five years somewhere or another and the whole hotel thing came up rather quickly several months ago,” Lippert said. “Once we became aware of it as a possibility, we were working with the city, then contacted the then-owner and we went to work on it.”

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Hamilton Economic Development Director Jody Gunderson said the purchase is “a great example of how a successful public private partnership can create a win-win scenario for both parties.

“This project will eliminate a public nuisance that was a drain on our public safety resources, and it will be an important part of the strategy to revitalize this area of the city,” Gunderson said. “Equally as important is supporting the expansion of a company that has called Hamilton its home for more than 100 years.”

Lippert said Hamilton Caster was exploring the possibility of other sites within Hamilton but did not consider sites outside the city.

“We never wanted to leave Hamilton,” he said.

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