Worthington News

Plan to attract tenants

Duffey asks state for $300K to fix 752 building

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The state will be asked to pour $300,000 into efforts to revitalize the Kilbourne Memorial Library.

State Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) has included the request in the 2014 state capital bill, which legislators will consider over the next several months.

If approved, the funds will be used to replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning; plumbing; and electrical systems in the 86-year-old building.

The library, better known to residents as the 752 building, sits on the northeast quadrant of the Village Green. It last was used as the Worthington school district's administration building. Administrators moved out in 2000, and it has been vacant since then.

In 2006, the city purchased the building for $500,000. City leaders feared the schools might try to lease or sell the building for a use other than a public one.

Since then, the city has spent more than $300,000 on upgrading the building and paying architects and planners to find ways to make it more attractive and usable to potential tenants.

After a few years, when it became evident that no public use for the building would occur, the city changed its zoning to permit commercial uses.

In 2012, voters approved liquor sales at the building, in a move designed to make it more attractive to restaurants.

Responsibility for leasing the building has been turned over to the Community Improvement Corp., an arm of city government that occasionally represents the city in business deals. The CIC is marketing the building.

"To me, the ideal use would be some kind of restaurant use," Duffey said. "I am hopeful the city will find that kind of purpose."

He said he envisions a restaurant that would be open all day and serve as a "hangout," with seating on the Village Green.

Another use would be a market similar to Worthington's old Home Market, he said.

Upgrading the utilities should help make the site marketable, but it still poses major challenges, Duffey said.

With only about 25 parking spaces on the property, more parking is needed for any type of commercial use, he said.

Possible solutions include leasing spaces from the Huntington Bank next door and building a parking garage to serve the Kilbourne building and other nearby facilities, according to studies done by city-hired consultants.

Parking also is available across the street at the Griswold Center, and Duffey has contacted the Ohio Department of Transportation to find out if the city could put on-street parking on High Street, north of Granville Road.

The downtown commercial district should extend from South Street to North Street, just like the boundaries of Old Worthington, he said.

Once the parking problems are solved and the final steps are taken to turn the building into a "vanilla box," someone will want to lease it and turn it into a profitable business, he said.

Vanilla boxes usually are those buildings whose basic frames and utilities are ready for an occupant to take over and modify.

"We can't get it leased because we don't have all the pieces together to make it marketable," Duffey said.

He said he doesn't want to see the building continue to be vacant.

"I call it the 50-yard line of Worthington," he said. "We can't leave anything vacant on the Village Green."

Comments