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Village to consider bidding on land parcel downtown

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The Village Station development that has been hanging on as a concept plan for office and retail space at the corner of Dayton and Railroad Streets is all but quashed. But an opportunity for a new idea may be coming soon.

The property at 150 Railroad Street, where the village’s grain elevator once operated, is scheduled to be auctioned on site by Ohio Real Estate Auctions on Thursday, Oct. 18, at 2 p.m. And the Village of Yellow Springs may be among those bidding for the property. Village Council has prepared a resolution authorizing the Village manager to bid for the purchase of real estate, and at it’s regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 15, Council will vote on whether to approve the legislation for the purpose of participating in next week’s auction.

The Village is not in the habit of purchasing property for development, Council President Judith Hempfling said this week. Except for the $300,000 loan the Village gave to Yellow Springs Community Resources to help purchase the village commerce park property in 2004, Hempfling could not recall a time when Council has purchased property, especially land in the downtown.

But particularly in a downtown with very little vacant property, Village Station could play an important role in shaping the central business district.

“It’s such a key property in our downtown, and it makes a lot of sense to be thinking about whether we should or should not have some control of it,” Hempfling said.

If the Village purchased the property, its most likely immediate use would be a parking lot, Hempfling said. As the property has sat vacant over the past five years, it has been used informally as an overflow parking lot for the businesses in the immediate area, such as Peach’s Grill, Williams Eatery, Yoga Springs and others. But last month the property owner erected barriers to prevent the public from parking on private property.

The .73-acre property is owned by Matt Arnovitz, who has been attempting to develop it with architect partner Ted Donnell for the past five years. The Village approved its rezoning as a planned unit development (PUD) in 2007, and renewed the approval in 2010 for the construction of several multi-story buildings slated for retail, professional office space and residential lofts. The total 12,000 square feet of space could have potentially served nine businesses and brought perhaps 60 new jobs to the village, Donnell estimated this week.

But the plan was first approved just as the economy was tanking and Antioch College was closing. While the developers secured multiple leases, they were never able to get enough commitments to finance the project.

“The Village has a vested interest in seeing that development there goes forward,” Donnell said, referring mainly to the potential for job creation there. “The loss of development as was designed is devastating for the village.”

While the Village had been working with Village Station developers to meet some joint needs, such as parking and stormwater drainage, according to Village Manager Laura Curliss and Village Planner Ed Amrhein, once ownership is transferred, the plans for Village Station are no longer valid. In order to get approval as a PUD, the property owner would have to reapply with the Village for new zoning.


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