Hillsboro’s community improvement corporation (CIC) officially closed the deal Friday for the old Gross-Feibel property for $20,000, plus agreeing to pay $6,200 in back taxes that were owed on the seven parcels that make up the entire property.
Bill Fawley, the Highland County auditor, verified Tuesday that the property was sold for $20,000 and the CIC – officially called the Hillsboro Area Economic Development Corporation – also paid $6,281 in back taxes owed on the parcels of land.
Mayor Drew Hastings said Tuesday that he and Mel McKenzie, the safety and service director, and Shawn Adkins, the city public works leader, recently toured the property and believe that two of the four buildings might be worth preserving, with the rest likely torn down. He said CIC members are planning to tour the property next week.
The property was owned by Ben Fenner under the name Gross Feibel Properties Limited.
Obtaining the property has long been an objective of Hastings as part of his effort to clean up blighted buildings and properties in the city.
Hastings described the Gross-Feibel property as the “biggest blight site” in town. He said last week he hoped the purchase 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 last week after council appropriated funds for the purchase. “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 Fairgrounds.
Hastings said he’d like to save the largest building if possible, since it is structurally sound, and a smaller building near the road that was apparently used as office space. He said 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 last week. “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.”
The city’s CIC was formed in 2015 after council acted on the mayor’s recommendation. CICs are used by cities or other government entities to carry out various economic development pursuits defined under the Ohio Revised Code, including land acquisition, equipment leases, low interest loans and land banking.
City council passed a resolution last week appropriating $40,000 in general funds to the CIC for the purchase of the deteriorated property. Hastings said the remaining funds will likely be used toward rehabilitating the site where the Colony Theatre stood until its recent demolition.
Gross-Feibel was a manufacturer of safes and bank equipment.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary. David Wright contributed to this story.