By DENISE GRANT
Legislation to allow for the sale of a downtown parking lot to make way for the development of the vacant Argyle lot was given its first reading at Tuesday’s regular meeting of Findlay City Council.
Developer Elvis Oxley, of Findlay, who addressed council Tuesday, said the proposed development will further efforts to make Findlay’s downtown more vibrant.
Oxley’s partner in the development effort, Gary Rakan, of East Lansing, Michigan, also attended the meeting. A third partner, Kevin Ramsier, of Cleveland, was unable to attend.
The development would include first-floor retail and about 100 apartments of different sizes. The building is estimated to cost between $12 million and $20 million to construct.
Oxley said he does have interested investors.
The Blanchard Valley Port Authority has offered the city $225,000 to purchase the parking lot, which is immediately behind the empty Argyle lot in the 500 block of South Main Street. The Argyle building was destroyed by fire in 2012.
State law prohibits the direct sale of public property to private entities, with the law requiring the property to be sold at public auction. The port authority, however, can sell property to private interests.
Port authority officials have said buying the Argyle lot, without the adjoining parking lot, doesn’t make “financial sense.”
According to port authority officials, the parking lot’s surface would be upgraded, with some square footage incorporated into the building’s design. The offer could also include a long-term lease with the city, which would allow the public to continue to use the lot. Residents of the apartment building would be required to rent their parking space.
The lot has a total of 58 parking spaces. The city leases 32 of the 58 spaces, at a rate of $35 per space per month, for a total of $13,440 annually.
Council has scheduled a committee-of-the-whole meeting with the port authority and the developers to discuss the sale. The meeting is set for 2 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Findlay Municipal Building, 318 Dorney Plaza, and is open to the public.
The development is similar to one proposed last year for the site, only with a smaller footprint. The newest proposal will not involve buildings abutting the Argyle lot.
In 2019, the port authority offered to buy the parking lot from the city and then sell it to California developer Tim Youngpeter, a Findlay High School graduate.
Youngpeter had proposed building a $31 million, six-story retail and residential development in and around the empty space where the Argyle apartment building once stood.
Council tabled legislation to sell the parking lot in June 2019, and it was later made public that Youngpeter was no longer interested in the lot.
There was a great deal of debate at the time over the value of the lot and the loss of public parking in the downtown. While the asking price was not made public, an estimate prepared for the city put the parking lot’s market value at about $180,000, with deed restrictions, and at $330,000 without any restrictions.