South Court Fire Station Deal — Several Circleville citizens have expressed concerns about the sale, or lack thereof, of Fire Station 2, located at 1220 S. Court St., by the City of Circleville. We at Circleville Online explored the public records to get to the bottom of the situation and we have some answers.
Speculation and a quick glance at the Pickaway County Auditor’s website have caused several people to think that the property was simply “given away.” It’s true; the site does show a transfer from Circleville to Southern Ohio Development Group LLC, on May 30, 2019, for $0. There is more to the story though. The auditor’s website doesn’t contain a copy of the agreement for the property that explains the terms and compensation.
The Fire Station Deal
On May 23, 2019, The City of Circleville transferred the former fire station property to Circleville-Pickaway Community Improvement Corporation, dba Pickaway Progress Partnership (P3), who in turn transferred the property to the current owners, Southern Ohio Development Group LLC.
According to sources, the City was concerned that the environmental remediation of the property was going to be a significant cost due to asbestos and from oil contamination from when the property was previously a car dealership. The cost to remediate these factors would outweigh the benefit of the building, which was evaluated by the county auditor for $352,030, and most likely any future owner would have to demolish the current structure, which was built in 1959. Therefore it was a strategic move to find a development company willing to develop the land versus the building to remain abandoned.
As a part of the agreement, the developer must demolish the building by Dec. 15, 2019, and environmentally remediate the property to develop properties such as a hotel, office, commercial or retail space in order to create many full-time jobs. Both the City and P3 will be involved as the project proceeds regarding the acceptable and desired use of the property.
As for payment by the developer for the property, the developer agreed to pay the legal fees of P3 for the transfer of the property as well as paying a $5,000 service fee to P3. The city and P3 agreed to absorb the cost of the staff time needed to assist developer in making sure the property has an acceptable and desired use.
If the developer fails to complete the project within five years, the City has the right to repurchase the property for the costs expended by the developer for environmental remediation and demolition.
You can download the agreement here:
While some may look at the move as the property being “given away”, it was a move that is commonly done in municipalities throughout Ohio. The tax dollars potentially received by a higher-quality development can greatly out way what the city could have realistically gotten for the 0.93 acre property.
There’s no doubt that the City had the best of intentions in transferring the land and this move is very logical, but it is understandable that there is confusion among the public. Communication of the situation is lacking at best. Though done in a public setting, a cloud of mystery remained, thus fueling speculation.
It is also true that we as tax payers tend to see things black-and-white. In this case we see a value on the auditor’s website and assume that’s what we should get for the property when in actuality there are prevailing factors that make that not possible. We should hold our lawmakers accountable, but sometimes our desire to find wrong doing makes it difficult for lawmakers to communicate complex solutions such as this without the fear of bad publicity. We as the public, should be understandable of these types of situations and not be quick to jump to conclusions without first researching laws, regulations, policies and best practices.
Exploring the South Court Fire Station Deal by Circleville Online