U-Haul Company of Ohio is now the owner of the shuttered and shabby Ramada Plaza on Sinclair Road.

The company made the highest bid for the 5.55-acre site at 4900 Sinclair Road. Plans are to turn the 208,456-square-foot motel, which was built in 1971, into a storage facility and U-Haul store, with truck and trailer rentals, moving supplies and hitches, said Dean Haske, president of U-Haul of Ohio.

Haske said he was not "privy" to the bidding price, but Senior Assistant City Attorney William Sperlazza said it was around $1.7 million.

The Franklin County Auditor's Office website puts the market value at $4.5 million.

The bankruptcy auction took place Oct. 23, said Sperlazza, who said the city's case against the property will remain active with the new owners being added as defendants and required to help fix up the abandoned motel.

U-Haul's plan is to reuse the entire structure, Haske said.

"We're attracted to abandoned properties because we're really into reuse of properties," he said. "None of it will be going to a landfill. There won't be any detrimental environmental impact."

Northland Area Business Association President Dave Cooper said he was somewhat disappointed another bidder considering the site for affordable senior-citizen housing lost out.

"We were hoping they would win because we really do need more affordable housing for seniors," Cooper said.

Dave Paul, chairman of the Northland Community Council development committee, said he has been in touch with Haske following the auction.

"I've invited him to come speak with us at our December meeting, just to give us a kind of look-see," Paul said.

The committee meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Ohio Department of Taxation, 1721 Northland Park Ave.

"We're absolutely supportive of the property not being degraded even more," Paul said. "We're anxious to see it reused."

"They believe they can use the infrastructure that's there," Cooper said. "There's a lot of damage from broken windows and more. I know the community's upset, but these things take time."

Cleanup of the site will be significant, but U-Haul personnel already have started work, Haske said.

"It's going to take several months in order for us to get it down to the point where we're able to go in and start laying it out for our uses," he said. "It's in rough shape, but it's definitely something we've done in the past.

"We do it on a regular basis. When it's all said and done, it's going to be something that the community can be proud of, especially compared to what it's been the last few years."

The former owner of the Ramada Plaza property abandoned it and lives out of the country, which is how it became the subject of bankruptcy proceedings, Sperlazza said.

City officials shuttered the motel, which had been deemed a public nuisance, in February 2015.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1