Despite that long history near Urbana, Chicago-based Glencoe Capital Management acquired the business last year and consolidated its operations with Cincinnati-based Clearbrook Farms, a fruit-based food manufacturer Glencoe acquired in 2016. Local officials are hoping to find a new buyer for the former Robert Rothschild Farm property quickly and said the site is ideal for several potential uses.
Officials at Glencoe did not return a call seeking comment this week.
The Champaign Economic Partnership is working with Gary Fisher, a commercial real estate agent from Cincinnati, to market the property, said Marcia Bailey, executive director of the CEP. Local realtors are also making contacts with prospective buyers, and the Dayton Development Coalition is also making the listing available, she said.
“It’s food-grade processing, so that’s always a big plus,” Bailey said. “Some of the site selections that come through, they want food-grade manufacturing space. With the sewer line being down there from the city, that’s an extra advantage too.”
Local leaders made a significant investment several years ago to extend a sanitary sewer line to the business to allow for an expansion and keep Robert Rothschild Farm in Champaign County. The city of Urbana agreed to spend $160,000 from the city’s sanitary sewer fund to extend the sewer line to the business. The Champaign County commissioners also applied for a $160,000 Community Development Block Grant to pay for a portion of the project, while the company picked up the remaining $467,000 cost.
That project has paid dividends even though the company’s local operations are shutting down, Bailey said. She said Koenig Equipment, an agricultural equipment dealer has since tapped into the line.
Memorial Health is opening a new $9 million medical center at 1958 E. U.S. 36 and chose that site in part because of access to the sewer line as well, she said.
The Rothschild Farm property could be a good fit for a variety of uses including food manufacturing, vertical farming, craft brewing and other options, Fisher said. The area has a qualified labor force, the site has highway access at U.S. 36 and there’s room for expansion if necessary, he said.
A brochure promoting the site describes the property as a little more than 30 acres with a roughly 46,000 square-foot production facility and an area for retail, a restaurant or meeting space. The brochure also highlight’s Urbana’s access to several key population centers within 300 to 600 miles.
The sale price listed on the brochure is about $2.9 million. Fisher said the site could be ideal for a business like vertical farming, in which produce is grown on trays stacked vertically in an indoor, climate-controlled environment.
“It’s a unique property from a lot of perspectives,” he said. “Its history is unique, and at its root it’s really a food production facility. Under the broader category of industrial properties, those types of facilities are a higher level because they’re food facilities, they’re inspected and they’re built to higher standards because of their unique use handling food. They’re relatively rare compared to your run-of-the-mill industrial building.”
The Springfield News-Sun covers major employers in Clark and Champaign counties, including Navistar and Community Mercy Health Partners.
By the numbers:
30.2 acres — Size of available property
45,792 square feet — Size of food-grade production facility
9,073 square feet — Size of retail, restaurant and meeting space
Source: SVN-Ricore Investment Management, Inc.
No plans have been finalized, Bailey said. But local economic development leaders plan to meet with potential local investors as early as next month.
The study estimated the project could generate between 15 and 20 new jobs, depending on the size of the hotel, if it’s built.
“This meeting is just to generate the interest of other community leadership,” Bailey said.
Champaign County has rooms available for overnight stays, including a downtown bed and breakfast and businesses like the Econo Lodge Inn and Suites and the Logan Lodge Motel. But the county hasn’t had a new hotel in years.
Elton Cultice, airport manager at Grimes Field in Urbana, has told the News-Sun he often reserves rooms in Springfield for events at the airport because of the few options available in Champaign County. That means less business for local restaurants and other businesses in Champaign County.
The CEP hired a consultant from Core Distinction Group to conduct the feasibility study. Staff from that company couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. The study was based on interviews with area businesses and local attractions that typically draw visitors overnight, as well as traffic studies from 2011 and 2014 provided by the CEP.
That included staff from local tourist attractions like the Ohio Caverns. The study also consulted with other entities that might draw residents for overnight stays or business purposes, including Urbana University and a small number of manufacturing firms.
The total tourism impact in Champaign County resulted in more than $47 million in sales and enables the employment of more than 350 people in the county, according to a 2013 study by Tourism Economics.
Along with as many as 70 to 80 rooms, the Core Distinction Group’s report also recommended the potential hotel provide meeting areas with space for about 50 guests, a pool and a workout area. In the end though, all those decisions, including how many rooms are included in the final plans, will be determined by any investors who push the project forward, Bailey said.
The hotel would be built within Urbana city limits, she said, but it’s too early to discuss any specific locations for the property.
If and when the project might move forward is still unclear, Bailey said. But if a decision to build the hotel is finalized this year, she said it’s likely the project could ramp up as early as 2019.
Bailey said the hotel would likely be a name-brand chain.
by Christopher Selmek, Urbana Daily Citizen
The Urbana City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting the residential rental development proposed by Flaherty and Collins Properties to redevelop South Elementary School, North Elementary School and the Douglas Inn for senior apartments at a regular council meeting on Tuesday. A copy of this resolution will accompany Flaherty and Collins' tax credit application to the Ohio Housing Finance Authority by the Feb. 15 deadline.
"I think this is a fantastic opportunity, and I think Urbana would be very welcoming to this," said council member Doug Hoffman. "We've got three distinct structures that I think really need this for the revitalization of the properties. These properties don't get fixed up any other way, at least not in the near future, and it also helps some of the other entities in town like the school and the downtown. I think this is just fantastic."
"I'm really excited about this," added council member Pat Thackery. "We have a housing issue in the community anyway, and if we get some senior housing, that's going to open up some housing that seniors are moving out of so others can move in there, and that's going to help the housing overall. I'm excited. And we need exciting things like this to happen in town and they're happening."
As part of the proposed development, the council unanimously passed another resolution authorizing the acquisition of certain properties, an agency agreement with the Community Improvement Corporation of Champaign County to negotiate with a buyer to purchase and develop said properties, declaring said properties to be no longer needed for public purposes and to authorize the sale of said propertes.
CIC Economic Director Marcia Bailey explained that the Urbana school board passed a resolution last week approving the sale of North and South elementaries to the city for a dollar a building. The school board set the purchase price of both buildings at $354,000, to which Flaherty and Collins has agreed.
"I see a trend where all the good things that seem to keep happening are coming through collaboration, through another party and party deals," Hoffman said. "Everything's happening with two and three and four, even five people involved, and I think that's not anything that we've had for a long time that I can remember. The group that we have up here now is working some pretty nice deals for the city, and I think our citizens recognize that."
The Douglas Inn is privately owned and further action will not be required fromt he council to authorize its sale.
A plan to redevelop a long-vacant hotel in downtown Urbana could also provide new life to two elementary schools that would otherwise be slated for demolition.
The Urbana City School District, the city of Urbana and the owners of the former Douglas Hotel are working on a proposal that could turn the vacant inn, as well as North and South Elementary Schools in Urbana, into affordable senior housing, Mayor Bill Bean said. Those entities are working with the Champaign Economic Partnership and Flaherty and Collins Properties, a developer based in Indianapolis.
The deal initially focused on finding a suitable use for the Douglas, which has been vacant for more than a decade, Bean said. But that site didn’t have enough rooms available to make the project viable so the developer also looked at the two elementary schools.
The school district is building a new high school on the same site as the current high school, as well as a preschool-eighth grade school and between Vintage Drive-Thru and Campground Road on the south side of town. With the new primary school under construction, the district’s three elementary schools were likely to be demolished, district Superintendent Charles Thiel said.
If the new project moves forward, it could redevelop a longtime eyesore downtown, find a new use for two of the school district’s aging buildings and provide more senior housing options for residents, Bean said.
The owners of the Douglas and staff from Flaherty and Collins couldn’t be reached for comment.
Several attempts have been made to redevelop the downtown hotel since it closed more than a decade ago. But renovations would be costly, Bean said, and finding a viable project has been difficult. The hotel was a local landmark and a popular business for years but most recently it’s been an eyesore, he said.
The city would only need to take over the two school buildings since the hotel is currently owned by a private entity.
“As far as I’m concerned, that hotel is a cancer in downtown Urbana,” Bean said.
Converting the hotel into senior housing would draw more foot traffic downtown, create jobs and benefit local businesses and restaurants, he said. Urbana’s Board of Zoning and Appeals recently approved a zoning change, approving two conditional use permits for the city school buildings that would allow them to be used for senior housing, said Marty Hess, a city council and BZA member.
“It’s going to be a boon for downtown Urbana if we can get this done,” Bean said.
Under the proposal, the school district would transfer the two properties to the city, and the CEP would transfer the properties to the developer, said Marcia Bailey, economic development director for the CEP.
The developer is seeking a grant from the Ohio Fair Housing agency in mid-February, Bailey said. The developer also is applying for historic tax credits later in the year to make the plan more affordable, she said, so all sides are working on a tight timeline.
Even if the developer doesn’t receive the credits this year, it would still be interested in applying next year, Bailey said. But the organizations are also discussing an agreement to make sure the city isn’t stuck with two school buildings if the deal falls through, she said.
“If we can get that historic building redeveloped, it just changes the whole landscape of downtown Urbana,” Bailey said.
The school district has funding available as part of its construction project to tear down unused buildings, Thiel said. Most of the money set aside for demolition would be returned to the state if the buildings are saved, he said. If this proposal falls through, there aren’t viable reasons for the district to maintain those properties.
The district has heard some interest from parties interested in East Elementary School, which isn’t included in this proposal, Thiel said. But there are no specific deals moving forward for that property at this point.
“There’s a large faction of the community that would like to keep and maintain those buildings for their history,” he said of North and South elementaries. “If it can be reused and repurposed that would be ideal, and the total project would be a win for the community.”
The Springfield News-Sun provides unmatched coverage of jobs and the economy in Clark and Champaign counties, including recent stories tracking unemployment rates and digging into expansion plans at Topre.
By the numbers
$35 million: Estimated cost to build a new elementary school in Urbana.
2: Of the three Urbana elementary schools that might be reused for senior housing
3: Total properties involved in senior housing plan — 2 elementary schools and the Douglas Hotel
10-15: Years that the Douglas Hotel has been vacant
Joshua Keeran | Urbana Daily Citizen, Employees of SVG Motors and Trenor Motors gathered in the Scioto Street dealership Friday during the announcement of a change in ownership. Pictured in the center shaking hands are SVG Motors President Steve VanGorder, right, and Trenor Motors President Roger Tehan Jr., left. VanGorder said the plan is to keep as many former employees of Trenor Motors as possible while also hiring additional staff to join SVG Urbana.
by Joshua Keeran, Urbana Daily Citizen
One of the Urbana’s oldest operating businesses is no longer. Trenor Motors, family-owned and operated since 1926, was acquired Friday by SVG Motors.
Headquartered in Dayton, the SVG auto group consists of two new and used car dealerships – SVG Chevrolet in Greenville and SVG Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Eaton – along with SVG Motors, a used car dealership in Dayton.
Steve VanGorder, president of SVG Motors, said he has been in talks with Roger Tehan, owner of Trenor Motors, for the past two-and-a-half years about the possibility of acquiring the Urbana dealership.
“I’m very appreciative of Roger Tehan and his family for affording me this opportunity to be able to do this,” VanGorder said. “This is an honor to be a Chevy, Buick and GMC dealer. I’m living my dream. This is what I’ve always wanted, and I’m on top of the world right now.”
He added the plan for the 90-plus-year Urbana staple is for it to continue to operate as a Chevrolet, Buick and GMC dealership under the name of SVG Urbana.
“We feel this is a great community, and there is no reason why this store can’t sell and service a lot of cars,” he said.
“In my opinion, (this location) is the best piece of real estate in the county – in between the two most traveled roads (routes 29 and 36) going through the county.”
VanGorder said the dealership will tie in perfectly with his other stores, which will allow SVG Motors to continue to be home of the “Superior Value Guarantee (SVG).”
“(The dealership) just seems like it fits what we are doing with the synergies of all our other stores with our marketing and advertising,” he said. “It will allow us to have a larger footprint digitally and on television. We will also be able to offer our customers bigger discounts because we have multiple locations.”
Changes In Store
[READ MORE at UrbanaCitizen.com]
URBANA — A historic, vacant building in the heart of downtown Urbana might get new life if tax credits are approved by the state.
The building that once housed Little Nashville, a bar just south of the roundabout, has been empty for two years and investor John Doss with Dye and Doss Insurance wants to change that.
“I didn’t really see any prospects of anybody doing anything with it,” Doss said as to why he decided to take up the project. “And besides that, in the ’40s and ’50s, my grandfather owned it. So it’s kind of a sentimental place.”
His insurance office is just south of the old bar. An application for historic tax credits filed with the Ohio Development Service Agency shows the total cost to renovate the 4,475-squarefoot building will be about $222,000. The building will house one office inside and have two residential spaces on the second floor.
Doss has requested $31,000 in tax credits, which are sold to investors to provide money for the development. He said he hopes to have the project completed by next summer.
“The historic tax program is a pretty good deal and it is really nice for small buildings,” he said. “The tax credits makes this project a viable thing.”
Putting buildings to use in downtown Urbana helps everyone in the community, said Marcia Bailey, economic development coordinator for the Champaign County Economic Partnership.
“We have a beautiful downtown with our historic overlay,” she said. “The more we can preserve and restore those buildings, the better our downtown will be.”
She took a tour of the building with Doss after he bought it about a year ago and said it has a lot of opportunity.
“Any new business is more than welcomed,” she said. “The foot traffic will benefit every business in downtown Urbana.”
READ MORE from staff writer Parker Perry at the Springfield News-Sun.
by Joshua Keeran, Urbana Daily Citizen
With the south side of Urbana currently serving as a hotbed of sorts for economic development, Colorado-based Crop Production Services (CPS) has decided to add to the ongoing construction in the area by redeveloping the former Interstate Truckers Inc. facility at 668 state Route 55 into a fertilizer distribution center.
“We’d like to be open and have some type of functionality this fall,” said Steve Emery, the southern Ohio division manager for CPS. “Fall is fertilizer season as harvest takes place, so we’d like to proceed as far as excavation and things of that nature.”
To get the ball rolling on the project, the Urbana Planning Commission on Monday approved a preliminary site plan contingent upon all comments made by the city’s Technical Review Committee, zoning officer and community development manager being addressed and incorporated into the final site plan drawings.
“While we don’t have everything fine tuned, we are certainly willing and want to cooperate with your board and city regulations as best we can,” said Jim Sawyer, an engineer with J&S Engineering, the firm hired by CPS to work on the project.
By being granted preliminary site plan approval, CPS is allowed to begin excavation or site work – includes foundation and utility work – on the 10-acre property located just west of Honeywell Aerospace.
“I think it will be a great shot in the arm for Champaign County and, in particular, the city of Urbana,” Sawyer said.
CPS’ plans for the site include adding onto the existing building, which will be the main office space, building a 20,000-plus-square-foot liquid fertilizer storage facility, and constructing a 12,000-plus-square-foot dry fertilizer storage building.
Considering the facility will be housing fertilizer, Emery and Sawyer assured the Planning Commission that all necessary precautions will be addressed to make sure the property complies will all laws and regulations.
“Being the largest wholesaler of agricultural fertilizer in the world, (CPS) pretty much sets a pretty high bar for safety,” Sawyer said.
Marcia Bailey, executive director of the Champaign Economic Partnership, called the upcoming project “another boost in the economic outlook for our community.”
“The opportunity to bring a vacant building back to use is always a good thing,” she said.
Bailey added the company anticipates the facility being fully operational by spring 2018. By this time, CPS anticipates the Urbana location will employ eight to 10 full-time employees and four to six part-time seasonal employees.
Bailey added CPS’ investment in the property along with bringing new employment to the area is important to not only the city, but also the county as it will add to the current tax base.
With several construction projects already underway in the general vicinity of the planned CPS fertilizer distribution center, what’s next for the city’s south side is anyone’s guess.
“The corridor (southern entrance) is being enhanced with the new Urbana City Schools (building), and the continual expansion and investment along state Route 55 (Lewis B. Moore Drive) creates the opportunity for further progress with additional business opportunities,” Bailey said.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.