Perhaps fitting for Delaware County's former jail, a Halloween deadline has been set for those considering the purchase of the 1878 structure.

The county has begun to publish what will be four weeks of advertising to announce the Oct. 31 deadline to submit proposals for the third invitation to bid on the jail at 20 W. Central Ave.

Commissioners on May 10 rejected two bids received in April for the former jail, deciding the bid requirements lacked adequate criteria determining the terms of the sale.

On July 19, commissioners approved a new set of detailed requirements for the sale, including an Aug. 24 deadline for submitting bids.

That bid opening was canceled Aug. 20 when commissioners approved the third invitation to bid.

The change gives those bidding on the jail the opportunity to also bid on the county-owned house and parking lot next door at 22 Court St.

At the Aug. 20 meeting, Commissioner Jeff Benton said, "We've become aware there may be some interest" in the house, which "could be a combined bid with (the old jail) and create maybe a bigger, newer transitional area for the city."

County Director of Facilities Jon Melvin said several interested parties have toured the jail, and no sealed bids are expected until just before the bidding deadline of 2 p.m. Oct. 31.

One bid received in April was for $156,000 and called for using the old jail as a law office. The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, currently serves as the county's law library.

The second was for $10,500; the bidders wanted to convert the jail to a restaurant and inn with spa services.

On May 10, Assistant County Prosecutor Aric Hochstettler said the original bidding process was based on price alone, and the commissioners were "not in a position legally to negotiate on unannounced criteria."

Following discussion with the prosecutor's office, commissioners approved the detailed requirements for those bidding on the jail this time around.

Bidders must:

* Provide a narrative summary for planned use of the property, including but not limited to any proposed renovation, rehabilitation or remodeling.

* Provide at least three references supporting the bidder's experience and ability in owning, renovating, rehabilitating or remodeling historic structures.

* Provide the names and contact information for all consultants or contractors retained, or to be retained, for the purpose of evaluating, renovating, rehabilitating or remodeling the property.

* Submit a business plan and economic-impact statement demonstrating the feasibility of the property's planned use and financial ability to complete and maintain improvements, as well as identify jobs that would be created, tax revenue to be generated and any economic-development assistance to be sought.

Delaware County Historical Society records show the jail was built in 1878 and is the third jail building at the site.

Melvin earlier said the building's historical designation qualifies it for tax incentives if a new owner rehabilitates it.

Delaware County Adult Court Services previously was housed at 22 Court St. Those offices have been moved to new county courthouse, 110 N. Sandusky St.

The county earlier said the old jail's sale is part of a county effort to consolidate offices following construction of the new courthouse and the acquisition of the Delaware Area Career Center's north campus.

The county will take possession of the DACC site in 2019. It sits on 64 acres off state Route 521 in Brown Township.

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