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.