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Fate of old clinic site still not known

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For most of the last 50 years, the 4.5-acre property along Xenia Avenue between Herman and Marshall Streets has been home to medical offices. But since the Yellow Springs Family Health Center, operated by Wright State University Physicians, was abandoned and demolished three years ago, the land has been vacant.

Now, after sitting on a proposal from Miami Township Fire-Rescue for more than a year, Wright State University officials said they would soon consider its request that three acres of the property be donated for the construction of a new fire station and Miami Township offices.

“[The property] is never far from our mind,” said Robert Sweeney, Wright State’s executive vice president for planning and board of trustees’ secretary, this month. “It’s something we want to make sure we’re good partners with Yellow Springs on.”

The Wright State Board, which controls the property, may discuss the fire department proposal in executive session at its February board meeting, according to a Wright State spokesman.

John Bale, associate dean for fiscal affairs at the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State, echoed Sweeney in affirming that the Village’s interests are important, but said that while Wright State could discount the property, the university would not give away the land, which is appraised at $1.1 million.

“It’s in our best interest to work with the Village of Yellow Springs to make best use of the property, but we can’t give it away for free,” Bale said. “We wouldn’t do anything one way or another without asking the Village for its best use.”

The Xenia Avenue property, which is zoned Residence B, is subdivided into 22 residential properties, each appraised at about $50,000. Bale said Wright State would consider selling the property under its current zoning as residential lots. Previously, the medical facility likely received a provisional zoning permit to operate, according to former Assistant Village Planner Ed Amrhein. The property is bordered by residences to the north and Friends Care Community to the south.

Bale added that while there was initially much interest in the property, he has not received any inquires in the last six months. Several private companies had approached Wright State with plans for the site, but their financing was contingent on grant requests that were denied, he said.

The Xenia Avenue property has a long history housing medical facilities. Antioch College built the clinic building there in 1967 after purchasing the land from the Odiorne family. It was the site of the Antioch infirmary, the Fels Research Institute and the Yellow Springs Clinic, a multi-specialty medical practice, until Wright State purchased it at a discount in 1979 to use as the base for its medical school’s family practice residency program. According to a 1979 Yellow Springs News article, the group of physicians sold the building and property to Wright State for $450,000, well below its appraised value of $844,000. Later the residency folded, though Wright State’s family medicine department continued to use the clinic as a medical practice and teaching facility, according to former health center medical director Cynthia Olsen.

Last year, the local fire department submitted its proposal to Wright State after determining that the former clinic site would allow the fastest response times for medical calls, according to Fire Chief Colin Altman. The fire department has been looking for a site to build a new building, estimated at $2.5 million to $3 million, since outgrowing its Corry Street facility. The current station, built in 1954, lacks adequate room for its crew to stay overnight and space between its parked vehicles is too small, Altman said.

The fire department also looked at properties on the Antioch College campus and the former Vernay Laboratories site before deciding that the former clinic location was optimal.

“We’re pretty much in dire need [of a new facility],” Altman said. “The problem is there’s not a good space in town to build a fire station. We’ve been waiting for over a year at this point to hear about this piece of property. Originally we had our eggs in one basket with the [Wright State] property and now we’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that we might not get the best site in terms of response times.”

The former Wright State Physicians Family Health Center was closed in 2009 due to falling revenues caused partly by maintaining an expensive old building, clinic leaders said at the time. The 50-year-old building was razed later that year and the clinic moved to a temporary site at Greene Memorial Hospital, with the plan to rebuild on the Xenia Avenue site at a later time. However, to fund rebuilding the clinic, the school needed to raise about $2.5 million, and fundraising efforts fell short. University officials later decided to consolidate the school’s family medical practices in a newly-built medical center on the Wright State campus, which opened last year.

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