The Canal Winchester Landmarks Commission voted unanimously Monday to approve a village request to demolish the old Parker Marathon station at 18 W. Waterloo St.

The Canal Winchester Landmarks Commission voted unanimously Monday to approve a village request to demolish the old Parker Marathon station at 18 W. Waterloo St.

The gas station, vacant since 1989, could be gone by the end of October, village development director Chris Strayer after the meeting.

"We're working hard to get this cleaned up as soon as possible," he said.

A $150,000 low- or no-interest loan from the Ohio Department of Development could pay for demolition and environmental clean-up, Strayer said.

Once the old tanks, contaminated dirt and building debris are removed, the property will be sold to a developer.

At one-third of an acre near the main intersection downtown, the site's size and location "lends itself to retail or office development," Strayer said.

The downtown Canal Winchester business district is "99-percent occupied, especially street-level space," he said. "There is only so much room to grow before you would have to start demolishing residences." Additional commercial space is always needed downtown, he said.

Several developers have expressed interest, but a firm commitment to build likely will not happen until the site has been cleaned and cleared, Strayer said.

Bob Garvin, vice president of Main Street Canal Winchester and president of the Southeastern Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, has been involved for years in trying to get the Parker Marathon site redeveloped.

"It's an eyesore and it's on one of the major roadways coming into downtown," he said Tuesday. "If the building would have been at all worth saving, we would have. But it's a hazard."

Garvin added that he is glad the site is on the verge of new life.

Landmarks Commission chair Beth Deeds said that in her 10 years on the commission, this is only the second or third demolition request involving property in any of the village's historic districts.

"There is not a whole lot of historic significance to (the old Parker Marathon station)," Deeds said. "I'd like to see something built there that's not causing something dangerous underground," she said, referring to any contamination from underground fuel tanks.

Any future developer of the site must obtain approval from the Landmarks Commission for external building materials. Commission member Tony Note said only "traditional materials" are approved for use in village historic districts.

Franklin County took possession of the Parker Marathon site in after a February 2007 sheriff's sale. The property was up at auction because owner David Parker owed the county more than $60,000 in back taxes. The county then transferred the property for $1 to the Central Ohio Community Improvement Corp. (COCIC) -- a nonprofit public-private partnership created in 2005 to rehabilitate distressed properties in the Franklin County area.

Last summer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency denied a request by the COCIC for a $125,000 grant to clean up the site.

The U.S. EPA has since appropriated additional money for environmental clean-up. The Ohio Department of Development is the state gatekeeper for these federal dollars, which became available in June.

Strayer said the Ohio Department of Development has not indicated when it will respond to the COCIC's loan request. But, he said, he's confident of approval.

Canal Winchester's role in this process has been to assist the COCIC with loan information and to help in securing a developer, Strayer said. The COCIC will recoup its $150,000 in clean-up loans when the property is sold.

"The idea is to sell the land for the cost put into it," Strayer said.