The City of Findlay should fully explore the possible sale of 428 W. Main Cross St., a property that formerly operated as Hochstettler’s Mill, and was once considered a possible home for the city’s health department.
At the same time, officials shouldn’t give the property away or rush to sell it. It was purchased in 2012 for $270,000, and though it has been mostly used for storage since, it is still a prime piece of real estate.
Its location, on a main entryway into downtown Findlay, and amidst recent development of the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts and Kan Du Art Studio, and expansion of Dietsch Brothers, only increases the value of the property, even if the buildings are razed by the next owner.
The Main Cross Street property is an example of when better planning may have benefited the city. It was acquired with the intent to use it to house the city health department, before the city and county health departments were merged in 2016.
While officials apparently recognized the great value of the location in 2012, it was not determined until after it was acquired that the building would need renovations of about $500,000 if it were to be used to house the city health department.
An assessment of the condition of the building and the expense of needed upgrades, one would think, would have been made pre-purchase. Had the cost been known, the city might not have bought it.
The idea of selling the property emerged again in March, and was brought to the public forefront in a letter to the editor by City Auditor Jim Staschiak on Tuesday.
It also was discussed at Tuesday’s council meeting.
In the letter, Staschiak questioned selling the property before the city considers its long-term needs for administration and operations space. Meanwhile, the city, he suggested, should maintain the property as it requires city residents to maintain theirs.
The call to sell or not will ultimately come down to the administration and council. Council plans to inspect the property during an informal committee of the whole meeting at 5 p.m. Aug. 30. That may be a good time for interested buyers to check out the property as well.
The property has been underutilized for six years, but though the exterior of the main building has deteriorated, the interior remains usable, according to Staschiak, who did a recent walk-through.
If it’s determined there’s no future city use for the property, it should be appraised and put on the market. A sale shouldn’t be approved to the first person who shows interest or makes an offer.
The bottom line, as far as 428 W. Main Cross St. goes, is the city should not lose money on a major taxpayer investment, especially this one.