Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings said the city’s industrial spaces may never compete with the Wilmington Air Park, but with a recent decision by Hillsboro City Council, the old Gross-Fiebel property may offer a light industrial zone for small businesses.
Hastings told The Times-Gazette on Tuesday that the city hopes to close a deal to buy the property this week.
Council passed a resolution Monday appropriating $40,000 of general fund cash for the purchase of the deteriorated property, which Hastings described as the “biggest blight site” in town.
Hastings said he hoped the decision would “in one swoop, start to clear the biggest blight site we have in the city.”
“Our first plan of attack is to get the site secure and try to start some limited demolition,” Hastings told The Times-Gazette. “We can’t really do much with the site until we remove a number of structures from there.”
The property, which includes several industrial buildings on a four-acre lot, is located on North Elm Street near the Highland County Fairground.
“There’s four or five buildings down there,” he said. “It looks like where they would shoot a sequel to the movie ‘Saw’… If it weren’t for the liability aspect, it’s like the perfect place to have one of those halloween haunts… There’s dripping ceilings and rusted iron and catwalks and vines growing into buildings. It’s pretty bad.”
As for the largest building, even in its advanced state of deterioration, Hastings said he’d like to save it if possible.
“We’re still looking at keeping the large main building,” he said. “Our street department and safety and service director will look at that to see if that building is usable by the city.”
Hastings said while the large building could be used as storage for the city, the property itself could be used for a number of things, including a new small warehouse with docking spaces for general use by local businesses.
“I think there’s a demand,” Hastings said. “We obviously are never going to compete with the Wilmington Air Park… But I would like to build some smaller facilities for small businesses… We could have some facilities that work for companies that employ eight people or 15 people, that type of thing. That way we can diversify it, too.”
Hastings said Ben Fenner is the current owner.
According to Hastings, the area is not considered a historical site.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.