By: Jenna Lawson, WHIO
View video of the announcement on WHIO's website
There were many points in the last five years that community partners thought ‘Legacy Place’ might never happen.
It took time to capture nearly $13 million in funding sources, including historic tax credits – not to mention delays due to the pandemic. But on Thursday, partners announced the funds were released and they are able to move forward with the project. It’s possible construction could start within the next week.
‘Legacy Place’ transforms the Douglas Inn in downtown Urbana and two former elementary schools (North & South) into affordable senior housing. 51 units will be created for those 55 and older, with six of them being devoted to people with disabilities.
“It’s just a real renaissance for Urbana,” Mayor Bill Bean told News Center 7′s Jenna Lawson.
Duane Miller, with development company Flaherty & Collins and also president of F & C Legacy Place, said the project accomplishes two goals: turning three vacant properties into useful properties and filling the need for affordable senior housing in Urbana.
“I love to jump into the skin of a community that’s looking for help and looking for opportunities to spur on their own development,” he said.
The Douglas has been vacant since 2004 and has long been a large eyesore on the southwest corner of Monument Square. The building has somewhat deteriorated and was the target of multiple arson fires in 2019.
The former owner of the property, John Doss, has done work to stabilize the structure. The elementary schools, despite being about 100 years old, are in solid shape, partners said.
The timeline for the project will move quickly. Developers estimate about six months to complete both elementary schools and a little over a year to finish the Douglas. Partners are hopeful that the project will have a positive domino effect on other aspects of Urbana living including neighboring businesses and housing.
“We may see some of those seniors who may move in here and now their single family homes are available for a new families to move in,” said director of the Champaign Economic Partnership, Marcia Bailey.
Bailey added that this solution also preserves the history of all three buildings for the community to enjoy for decades to come. “Having these buildings standing as they are and being repurposed is a huge win for our community,” she said.
Other partners in the project include the City of Urbana, Urbana City Schools and Resident Supports and Services, Inc., which provides housing for seniors and adults with developmental disabilities.
A partnership between the Dayton Development Coalition and JobsOhio provided the donation of PPE kits as a way to assist small businesses in Ohio. . Each Toolkit includes 100 3-ply masks, 10 KN-95 masks and a 24-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer.
“Small and medium sized businesses make up the backbone of Ohio’s economy and with grit and determination, they and their employees have persevered through unprecedented economic and health challenges during this pandemic. JobsOhio is pleased, along with our network partners, to provide them with PPE toolkits, to aid them in their efforts to get back to work and operate safely.” said J.P. Nauseef, JobsOhio president and CEO. “While we don’t know what the future holds, we are optimistic that Ohio businesses will succeed and continue to play an essential role in Ohio’s economic recovery.
The CEP advised that while they were not able to reach every business in the county they will have additional kits available at the CEP and Municipal buildings of Mechanicsburg, North Lewisburg and St. Paris. These kits will continue to be distributed until they have been depleted. Businesses in need of a PPE Safety Toolkit should contact their office at 937-653-7200.
By Hasan Abdul-Karim, Springfield News-Sun
Officials with the city of Urbana say they will have a better sense of where the city stands financially amid the coronavirus pandemic as tax filings in the coming months will paint a more accurate picture.
“Income tax revenue, specifically withholding taxes, has remained consistent through April,” said Chris Boettcher, the director of finance for Urbana.
“Obviously, the extension of the 2019 tax returns filing date from April 15 to July 15 has delayed collections, so we will have a better picture in late July once individuals and businesses have filed their tax returns.”
It will also allow the city to adjust general revenue projections for the year as the coronavirus pandemic continues. However, there has not been a reported dip in those revenues as of May.
So far, projected revenue for the city’s general fund is $7,039,000 based on pre-pandemic trends.
Budgeted appropriations amount to $7,001,890, Boettcher said.
A large portion of general fund revenue comes from local income tax. The projection for this year so far is $6,489,000 and $3,455,300 is to be directed to the general fund, Boettcher said.
A stay-at-home order was implemented by the governor’s office in March with the hopes of curbing the spread of the coronavirus in Ohio. It called for the closing of nonessential businesses, while others that remained open were asked to tweak their operations following state guidelines.
That included implementing social distancing policies at businesses. Restaurants transitioned to offering strictly carryout, delivery or curbside services. Companies that offer both nonessential and essential services were asked to focus on the latter.
Ohio began gradually reopening portions of its economy in the beginning of May and businesses that had to temporarily shutter their doors have now reopened. Those businesses are required to follow state guidelines related to the pandemic, such as social distancing, increase sanitary practices and in some cases increase personal protection equipment for employees.
Marcia Bailey, with the Champaign Economic Partnership, said that the economic impact affected industries differently in the county.
She noted that while manufacturing as a whole was impacted, a large portion of those businesses were deemed essential and were able to stay open.
But all had to adjust their operations amid the pandemic.
Some saw an increase in the demand for their services, while others had to reduce production. Other businesses, such as family owned and operated restaurants and retail stores either temporarily closed or reduced their operations.
Even though some of those businesses have since reopened, they are still making adjustments, said Bailey.
In terms of restaurants, some have continued to rely on carry out services or have had to reduce the number of people able to dine-in due to social distancing guidelines.
A grant fund has also been established in Champaign County to aid small businesses, with 50 employees or less, impacted by the ongoing pandemic. So far, there has been a total of 24 recipients with a total award of over $54,000, Bailey added.
In addition, Urbana University announced in April that it would close and cease enrollment at the end of the 2020 spring semester. The closure will directly affect 350 students and 111 full-time employees, school officials said at the time.
However, Urbana has not seen a dip in revenues from January to May. Boettcher said general fund revenues reported for this year is approximately $2.7 million and is similar to what was reported during the same period last year.
Urbana Mayor Bill Bean said that at this point they are continuing to monitor the budget and operations have stayed relatively the same.
Contact this reporter at 937- 328-0355 or email Hasan.Abdul-Karim@coxinc.com.
That includes diversifying as well as adding to available housing stock in the county, fostering more development of new homes and the redevelopment of old ones as well as preexisting buildings that can be converted to apartments and lofts.
One of the tasks of the housing consortium could be to look at existing zoning and rules in the county and what can be done to make them more conducive to current housing needs, said Marcia Bailey, the director of the Champaign Economic Partnership. That includes also focusing on multi-family housing options, instead of just on single family homes.
“We want development to occur where there is available or nearby infrastructure. We are an agricultural community and we want to be able to preserve agricultural land as well,” Bailey previously told the News-Sun.
A point she said they will continue to focus on.
Efforts to boost the local housing market were temporarily put on hold due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, Bailey said they are looking to hold conversations next month and hope to have the housing consortium up and running in the near future.
This follows a series of discussions held in the beginning of the year that went over some of the findings of the comprehensive housing study, which was conducted by the Greater Ohio Policy Center.
That organization, according to its website, “is focused on improving the communities of Ohio through growth strategies and research.
Bailey said that she wanted to continue having those conversations as housing is an issue that will not soon go away. She said that having available housing stock and looking at ways to grow the population is key to economic development in the county.
The News-Sun previously reported that lower housing stock, coupled with high demand has led to a continued stable market in the area even during the pandemic.
The study commissioned by the Champaign Economic Partnership looked at common housing challenges in the city of Urbana as well as the villages of Mechanicsburg, North Lewisburg and St. Paris. It also compared municipalities in the county to others in the state that are tackling similar problems such as having aging housing stock, a fair amount of blighted properties and limited land for new housing developments.
In Champaign County, it was noted that 75% of homes there were built before 1990, according to the Greater Ohio Policy Center.
Additionally, there has been a total of 324 permits filed in the county since 2010 for the construction of single family homes.
It was also found that about 80% of new home construction since 2010 has occurred outside municipal boundaries in the county.
“It can be within a township or another unincorporated territory,” said Maria Walliser-Wejebe, a research associate with the policy center, earlier this year.
The study cost about $40,000 and came from funds set aside by the Champaign County Commissioners that are to be used for economic development. In addition, the analysis offered a total of 22 recommendations that followed six main themes.
The recommendations fell into the categories of prioritizing down towns and main streets, ensuring that local governments are strong partners to development, protecting existing housing stock and preventing it from declining, having creative financing and funding strategies and maintaining affordability.
Thank you to all our local businesses for completing our Business Impact Survey. This information (Business Impact Survey Results) will be used to begin gathering the various resources that you will need to reopen and recover. We certainly appreciate all of our businesses and what you bring to our community. We will do whatever we can to assist you now and into the future.
It is recommended you contact your local banks/financial institutions first for potential loan assistance. (Click here for a complete list of area SBA lenders.) They have been able to approve some applications and have others that are pending approval.
There are a variety of programs that you may qualify for to get you back to recovery. (These are also listed on this COVID-19 Relief PowerPoint presentation.) And explained further on this Dayton Development Coalition SBA webinar link: https://dialpad.com/shared/call/WfzXD4cBYdVcrHDjNCqP92qw47MfUNMPpzO6v7r4w2Mf
Remember, another local source of information and assistance in completing these applications is the Springfield SBA which serves Champaign County: www.springfieldsbdc.com
On April 7th, Governor DeWine announced the creation of the Office of Small Business Relief to identify ways to provide support to Ohio's small businesses. This office will be housed within the Ohio Development Services Agency.
The Office of Small Business Relief (OSBR) is focused on identifying and providing direct support to the state's nearly 950,000 small businesses to help during the current public health crisis and to position them for a span rebound.
Additional tips for businesses from our local lending institutions:
Ohio Lt. Gov. Husted reported that more than 29,000 jobs had been posted on the new website to match essential businesses with Ohioans seeking work: https://jobsearch.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/jobsearch/
Community leaders have known for some time that Champaign County needs more available housing options to attract new businesses – and their workforce – and to support growth of existing business.
Recommendations to help Champaign County provide the full range of current and future housing needs will be unveiled at a public meeting, 8:30 to 11 a.m., February 14, in the Champaign County Community Center Auditorium.
The recommendations are part of the Comprehensive Housing Market Analysis for Champaign County, developed by the Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) and commissioned by the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP).
CEP Director Marcia Bailey said that the housing market analysis will be shared first with local county, city, village and township officials before the public meeting.
“The February 14 public meeting is open to all citizens and will provide information of special interest to business leaders, developers, real estate professionals, builders, property owners, financial institutions and others interested in helping Champaign County thrive,” Bailey said.
She added that an evening session will be scheduled for late February or early March and additional public meetings will be announced to provide residents multiple opportunities to learn more about the study findings.
The GOPC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on helping improve Ohio communities through smart growth strategies and research. The GOPC regularly provides expert analyses to public, private and nonprofit leaders at the local, state and national level.
Bailey said that the study is designed to serve local leaders as a guide for making decisions that support a broad range of housing options for all segments of the population. And to attract new residents, including young families drawn by jobs and people looking for a quieter lifestyle within commuting distance of their jobs in metropolitan areas.
The study covers the county as a whole, as well as the four primary population centers, Urbana, Mechanicsburg, St. Paris and North Lewisburg.
The GOPC conducted the study with the guidance of steering and advisory committees composed of local government officials and representatives of financial institutions, developers, builders, property owners, real estate agents and business owners.
Examples of recommendations made in the study include: