Land & Environmental

Village buys Railroad Street lot

The auction of the property at the corner of Railroad and Dayton streets started a few minutes past 2 p.m. last Thursday, Oct. 18. Thirty-five people gathered around the gravel lot to witness the action, and after a brief legal description and very short bidding process, by 2:16 the Village of Yellow Springs had purchased the .727-acre property for $170,000.

Property owner Matthew Arnovitz said parting with the property on which he had tried to build a commercial and residential mixed-use development over the past four years was “bittersweet.”

“I hope the Village has great success with it,” he said. “[For me] it was time to go in a different direction.”

Three bidders registered to participate in the auction, but just two put money at stake. Jim and Libby Hammond, represented by Sheila Dunphy-Pallotta, established the opening bid of $150,000. Village Manager Laura Curliss, bidding for the Village, raised them to $160,000, and even after some gentle prodding by Ohio Estate Auctions auctioneer Ron Denney, the Village had the highest bid. Denney then suspended the auction to converse with Arnovitz, who offered a reserve bid of $170,000, which the Village matched.

The Village plans to improve the lot slightly in order to further its use as a public parking lot for the immediate future, “until Council decides what it wants to do with it,” Curliss said after the auction. Improvements include signing the lot for public parking, clearing out the brush, adding a course of gravel and leveling the land.

“It’s been a de facto parking lot for a long time…this makes it official,” Curliss said. While parking may not be the property’s highest and best use, parking is an important use, Curliss said, adding that “it doesn’t add much to our costs.”

The Village plans to use part of the approximately $2.8 million in electric fund reserves to pay for the purchase of the property, which Village Council President Judith Hempfling has said is “key” to influencing any change to the downtown area. Council plans to begin a dialogue at some point to discuss how the property could and should eventually be used in the best interest of the community.

Arnovitz purchased the unimproved lot in 2006 for $180,000. Over the past four years he and architect Ted Donnell, who owns the property directly north along Railroad Street, have planned for the property a 12,000-square-foot commercial and residential development known as Village Station. The plans won Village approval twice, but the developers could not get committed leases for 50 percent of the retail and professional office space needed to finance the project through a bank, Arnovitz said last week.

 

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