“It’s exciting that another piece of the puzzle has been approved for funding,” said Champaign Economic Partnership Executive Director Marcia Bailey. “Nothing is finalized yet, and we’re not quite ready to sign for the property, but the city, Urbana City Schools and the CEP have done everything we can on our end and now we’re continuing to work with Flaherty & Collins to get this project to the final stages.”
According to ODSA, Legacy Place is only the second project to be awarded in Urbana. The awards are planned to assist private developers in rehabilitating historic buildings in downtowns and neighborhoods that, once rehabilitated, drive further investment and interest in adjacent property.
“The historic preservation tax credit is another way we’re investing in our communities,” said Gov. Mike DeWine in a news release. “These investments can spur development in a neighborhood or downtown.”
“Partnering with communities and developers across Ohio, we’re preserving historic sites that make Ohio unique,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of ODSA. “We’re creating new opportunities for small businesses and housing.”
The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program is administered in partnership with the Ohio History Connection’s State Historic Preservation Office. The state Historic Preservation Office determines if a property qualifies as a historic building and if the rehabilitation plans comply with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
Bailey said that in addition to providing a built-in customer base for downtown business owners, the project will be an example for the Moving Downtown Forward committee to inform developers how to move projects ahead in downtown Urbana.
According to information from the ODSA, the Douglas Inn was constructed about 1870 in the Second Empire style with a mansard roof. The structure has been vacant since 2004. When ready to complete the sale of property, Flaherty & Collins will work directly with private owner John Doss to acquire the Douglas Inn.
“Just seeing the Douglas get put back into use again is a very positive thing for the community,” said Community Development Manager Doug Crabill. “Seeing those school buildings be reused rather than being torn down and vacant lots gives us a good feeling, because at least we know there is a plan for re-purposing those buildings.”
“It’s something we’re used to doing and we feel like there’s usually an extra need for senior housing in communities, and in communities like Urbana there’s a need to help older (buildings) continue their life,” said Julie Collier, vice president of Development for Flaherty & Collins Properties. “It’s two-fold for us because we’ll help save some important buildings in … Urbana, and we’ll also fulfill a housing need for local residents.”
The two schools, built in 1901 and 1921, served the city’s children until they became vacant in 2018. Bailey said the Ohio Revised Code allows the school district to dis-invest of the two properties no longer needed by the school district. Rather than demolish the buildings, the plan is for them to be purchased by the city for $1 each under an alreadysigned purchase agreement. Then the CEP will act on behalf of the city to sell the buildings to Flaherty and Collins.
“The city council agreed to do all of this,” said Bailey. “We had the city schools that were willing because they didn’t want to see the buildings (demolished) either, and it’s a cost savings for taxpayers not to have to pay for the demolition. But the city council agreed that they will take on the buildings … That was an important component, because if the city had not agreed to do that we wouldn’t be where we’re at right now.”
On March 19, the Urbana City Council unanimously passed a resolution of support for the developers of Legacy Place to apply to the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program. Flaherty & Collins also obtained tax credits through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.
“The best news is that we have a governor who is a farmer,” she added.
“I’ve visited his farm in Cedarville many times and I’ve met the familythat farms his farm, and believe me that farmer is in Gov. DeWine’s ear every single day talking to him about the real issues on Gov. DeWine’s farm itself, but also the issues statewide. So Gov. DeWine has farmers in his heart and in his mind every day as he goes about the state doing the business of the state of Ohio.”
Touring Champaign County farms
At Pelanda’s first stop at Freshwater Farms of Ohio she met owner Dr. Dave Smith, who walked her past a series of fish tanks, some containing fish you could pet or feed. Inside one building he said that each tank contained 4,600 perch at a time and that the crowded school makes the fish feel more at ease.
Smith also explained his RAINBOW - Routing And Integrating Nutrient Byproducts Of Wastewater - program through which he recycles water to irrigate six acres of field to grow melons, pumpkins, bell peppers and tomatoes. With his background in ecology he has fostered a diverse ecosystem of insects that naturally prevents any one pest species from gaining an advantage, making pesticides unnecessary.
Pelanda encouraged Smith to set aside acreage to grow hemp, saying that the governor will be signing a bill later this summer authorizing her, as the director of agriculture, to grant farmers licenses to grow hemp with almost no restrictions.
“Hearing Dave talk about his passion and his vision for what he wants to do in the future with hydroponics and aquaponics is really exciting,” she said prior to the film. “We then moved to Mike (Pullins) and Cathy’s Berry Farm, and in the misty rain we picked some beautiful red and black raspberries, and what a treasure that is going to be to take home to my husband tonight.”
After picking berries, Pelanda sat on an EZ-Go cart with Mike as he explained his farming methods. He said that pick-your-own raspberry season was to begin today and invited area residents to the farm at 5676 E. state Route 29.
According to Pullins, the first berries available will be red raspberries, but black raspberries would likely be available next week.
Pelanda was joined at this stop by Melinda Lee, organization director of the Champaign County Farm Bureau.
Lee gave Pelanda a bottle of wine on behalf of Dragonfly Vineyard.
Finally, Pelanda visited Dugan Road Creamery and was guided through the process of making yogurt. Owner Joyce Nelson said one cow drinks an average of 50 gallons of water and produces 145 pounds of milk every day. Pelanda watched owner Chris Nelson operate a pasteurizing machine that can produce one pound of cheese from a gallon of milk, or four gallons of yogurt from five gallons of milk. “Our final stop was at a unique dairy farm, and it was just wonderful because from cow to yogurt we got to see the process from finish to end, so it was a very memorable visit,” Pelanda said of the visit prior to the film.
For more information about any of the farms on this tour, contact the CEP at 937-653-7200.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304.
“Every Whole Foods in Ohio carries our products,” he said. “It was a little tough to get into Champaign County, but we sell to Gordon’s FoodService and now they’re using us at several local restaurants. I know for sure that Lincoln & Main carries us now. There were some smaller restaurants that weren’t worth bringing a truck to, but when we started selling with Gordon’s that has allowed us to become the pride of the community, which is a little ironic, I guess.”
Snyder is now working with the Bom Group, of Holland, to design the new greenhouse. The previous two were designed by the Rough Brothers of Cincinnati, which supplied drawings and material, but Snyder said his team was able to build most of it. His father has experience as a general contractor, and they have an engineer on staff.
The two existing greenhouses are fully automated, with total climate control, an opening and closing roof, grow lights, fans, liquid CO2 for cooling and heat pipes.
The second greenhouse is built on a treadmill so that plants start out young on one end, move about five rows forward each day, and are ready to harvest by the time they reach the front row.
From there crops go to the packaging room for shipping the next day. Snyder said they originally shipped on the same day, but some food distributors needed the product temperature to cool more slowly for efficient delivery.
“This has been something I was always pulled toward,” he said. “I grew up in a suburb of Columbus, which is where I had my first garden, and we found this land available on line. I never went to college for agriculture.
We just did a lot of internet research, and none of us were afraid to ask questions. Ohio State has been really helpful, and we went out to Cornell to learn as much as we could before starting the farm.”
Snyder said Old Souls has 12 employees and he hopes to have a staff as large as 80 once the expansion is complete. Interested job seekers are invited to stop by the farm and fill out an application.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304.
Caty Shoemaker, seated at center, signs her employment contract as an intern at ORBIS in Urbana. Seated at left is her manager, Laura Reed, materials manager, and seated at right is Shoemaker’s fiancé, Sam McGill. Standing from left are Dan Szklany, ORBIS plant manager; Maegan O’Connor, human resources representative; Tom Walker, scheduler; Sharon Cook, buyer/planner; Shelley Fuller, plant scheduler; Julie McGill, Sam McGill’s mother; Judy and Rodney McGill, McGill’s aunt and uncle; Cindy and Perry Shoemaker, Shoemaker’s parents; Jill O’Neal, Caty Shoemaker’s sister; Dean Ortlieb, Urbana fire chief and a cousin of the Shoemaker family; Karen Chuvalas of Urbana University; Ashley Cook, business liaison of the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP); and CEP Director Marcia Bailey.
The Orbis manufacturing facility in Urbana held a May 10 signing ceremony for an Urbana University senior who has begun a scheduling and purchasing internship at the company, which makes reusable plastic containers, pallets, dunnage and bulk systems for industrial customers.
Caty Shoemaker, a West Liberty-Salem High School graduate who will graduate in December from Urbana University, was joined for the signing ceremony by ORBIS leaders, representatives of the university and Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP), and family members, including her sister Jill O’Neal, a former member of the ORBIS team and now human resources operations manager at Weidmann Electrical Technology in Urbana and a member of the CEP Board.
The ceremony, patterned after signing ceremonies that colleges conduct for new student athletes, was coordinated with ORBIS by Ashley Cook, business liaison of the CEP.
Shoemaker is majoring in strategic management and minoring in accounting and marketing at Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University.
Karen Chuvalas, business development manager of the university’s UrbanaWORKS program, said that Christopher Washington, executive vice president and CEO of the university, is developing relationships with local companies to establish internships and co-ops. He wants all students to complete an internship or co-op before graduating.
Bundy Baking Solutions held a signing ceremony a week before for three local students who have joined their workforce.
Urbana joins the neighboring cities of Springfield, Bellefontaine, Marysville, London, Sidney, Piqua and Troy in being named a Tree City USA for 2018. As part of this nationwide program, Ohioans last year planted more than 24,000 trees, pruned more than 77,000 trees, volunteered more than 42,000 hours in their urban forestry programs and invested a combined total of more than $40 million toward urban forestry efforts.
Trees provide multiple benefits to a community when properly planted and maintained. They help to improve the visual appeal of a neighborhood, increase property values, reduce home cooling costs, remove air pollutants, and provide wildlife habitat, among many other benefits.
Urbana’s Shade Tree Commission is comprised of the following members who serve in an advisory and supporting role to city staff in the city’s urban forest management efforts: Jim Lemon, Ward Lutz, Earl Cottrill, John Kussman, Colin Stein and Doug Crabill. In 2018, members of the commission volunteered in excess of 115 hours.
Currently, the seat representing the 1st ward on the commission is vacant. Residents interested in being appointed can contact Mayor Bill Bean or their city council representative.
The Arbor Day observance and celebration for 2019 will be held this month at the new Urbana Elementary School campus.
By Christopher Selmek, Urbana Daily Citizen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Developers are hopeful that the former Q3 JMC Inc. property at 605 Miami St. will be ready to use later this year, with nearly three-quarters of the Johnson Manufacturing building already leased to various companies, according to True Inspection Services Vice President Joe Timm. Urbana-based TIS is just one company looking forward to taking up residence in the 32,000-square-foot building while continuing to direct the remediation of the 20-acre site.
“Right now we have a contractor that’s doing most of the work and finishing up the remediation,” Timm said in February. “That should be done probably in the next 90 days, and then at that point we’ll apply for the covenant not to sue with the (Environmental Protection Agency), which will probably take another 60-90 days. Once we get that, then at that point we can start some of the redevelopment of the actual building itself.”
TIS currently maintains offices at 871 S. Main St., the old Buckles Building, but plans to move to the Johnson Building later this summer. A door manufacturer from Kentucky also plans to establish warehouse space there, which Timm says will create a handful of local jobs.
“We’ve had at least three people go in that building,” said Champaign Economic Partnership Director Marcia Bailey. “Right now you look at it and it looks ugly because it’s got the metal skin on it, but you get in that building and it’s gorgeous. It’s got the big brick in it and the beams, and it’s a gorgeous building.”
Five acres at the rear of the property have never been built on. At the west side, the CEP is looking at a potential opportunity to clean up Ann Street and Beech Street, depending on the end user and if the city wants to maintain them. The entire property is zoned manufacturing, and Bailey said her plan is to market it as such and eventually get every inch possible utilized as manufacturing space.
The east side of the property will belong to TIS, which the company will continue to redevelop and for which lessees will be sought.
“All in total it’s about 20 acres of manufacturing that’s sitting there in the heart of Urbana on a US highway, so it’s prime location,” Bailey said.
“Then we were trying to find someone who would honestly take the risk and the task on to help us get it cleaned up, and that’s when Joe contacted us to see what’s going on and how he might be able to help.”
The Q3 JMC property has not been fully utilized since the company ceased manufacturing operations there in 2008. The city of Urbana officially took ownership of the property in May 2017 through a tax foreclosure process and shortly thereafter obtained a $883,947 grant through a JobsOhio Redevelopment Pilot Program to perform demolition, environmental remediation, asbestos abatement, removal and disposal of waste and site preparation. “Historically it was a manufacturing operation, Q3 Stamp Metal, which had purchased the Johnson Manufacturing Company, so they called it Q3 JMC,” said Community Development Manager Doug Crabill.
“It basically became an abandoned property, the taxes accumulated, and suffered quite a bit of vandalism. Then we had a fire caused by arson that destroyed part of the remaining buildings on Miami. Part of the site was under findings and orders with the Ohio EPA, so we got those findings and orders released, but part of getting those released is to complete the cleanup work that’s being done.”
Honeywell International Inc. recently completed remediation of groundwater contamination in a four-acre section on the west side of the property. Honeywell became liable for the former Grimes Aerospace Plastic Research Products contamination when it acquired the Grimes company.
“Honeywell’s scope was limited to VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) remediation,” said Crabill. “That was what they agreed to participate and assist with as far as that part of the cleanup and that was isolated to a small area in the back of the site. They essentially removed quite a bit of soil and had it hauled away and put back-fill in, and then they’ve installed monitoring wells. What they are trying to demonstrate is that they’ve cleaned up the source of the VOC contamination, so therefore then the groundwater is clean in that area again.”
TIS also removed an 800-gallon diesel storage tank and, according to Crabill, the city received a letter from the Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations that no further action is needed in that area of the property.
TIS recently completed asbestos remediation work in the Johnson building.
According to Crabill, the presence of asbestos was a major reason that several of the structures were not kept, along with damage from a 2015 fire ruled an act of arson by the state Fire Marshal’s Office.
“The structures that were not kept were in a state that they just couldn’t be put back,” he said. “A good period had passed since the time they closed until the time we were able to take ownership of the site, and I think all of the roofs were at the end of their useful life even back when they were in business, so by the time we got in a lot of the water damage had already set in on a lot of the structures.”
Bailey stated her appreciation for TIS doing their due diligence to oversee the project, adding that they would not hand the property over to a buyer until they were certain there were no longer any hazards involved.
“It is a true partnership because all of the entities had responsibilities,” she said. “The city does, Honeywell had their responsibility, and at the end of the day, then, the responsibility is on True Inspection to be able to get it cleaned up and ready for the city to apply for the VAP agreement - Voluntary Action Plan - and then we start marketing.
We’re already marketing, Joe and I have already had more than one person down there looking at that space.”
“The Ohio EPA has a Voluntary Action Program - VAP - and essentially it’s a program where a volunteer steps up and is willing to bring a property up to a certain environmental standard that Ohio EPA has developed,” said Crabill. “They have a certified professional that oversees that, the city has one of those who oversees this, and he prepares all the documentation of all the remediation that’s been done and certifies that the site is clean under rules of the VAP. As a result of that, there is a covenant not to sue that’s issued by Ohio EPA as a result of all the work that’s been done to clean up the site. It’s a good tool for property redevelopment so that sites like this don’t sit idle because they can’t be cleaned up.”
“We’re excited at the opportunity,” said Timm. “We’ve made good progress, and it’s taken a little longer than we anticipated, but with any time there’s environmental cleanup there’s unforeseen items that come up. But we’re making good progress and we anticipate getting a covenant not to sue this summer, starting renovation in the fall, and having people moved in and have some new jobs created by the end of the year, start of next year.”
The property is currently divided into about 26 parcels which Bailey said will need to be consolidated before they can be sold. Bailey said she hopes to have a buyer within six months; anyone interested may contact the CEP at (937) 653-7200.