The city of Whitehall, after more than a decade of negotiating with Woodcliff Condominiums to abate what it calls nuisances, is considering asking a court to allow it to take over the 317-unit complex at the northeast corner of North Hamilton Road and East Broad Street.

"We've been working to make things better for 11 years, and it is still a public nuisance in our opinion," Development Director Zach Woodruff said.

Brett Hoerig, elected as president of Woodcliff's advisory board, declined to comment at length but said he was aware of the city's apparent intent.

"All I can say is we are in talks with the city and think we are continuing to make improvements to the property," Hoerig said.

A resolution authorizing Mayor Kim Maggard to make a "good-faith offer" of $9 million to Woodcliff's court-appointed receiver was expected to receive a second reading at City Council's March 20 meeting.

A third and final reading of the resolution and its passage are expected April 3.

The court-appointed receiver is Mark Froehlich.

"Since negotiations are currently taking place between the city of Whitehall and various unit owners, I don't believe it would be appropriate (to comment)," Froehlich said.

Woodruff said the city does not expect to act immediately but wants the option to appropriate in place if and when that path is chosen.

"Having this legislation is just the first step that is required if we choose to appropriate," Woodruff said.

According to the authorizing resolution, on Feb. 9, Franklin County Public Health filed a status report in the environmental division of Franklin County Municipal Court indicating "that the nuisance remains unabated."

Whitehall first filed a complaint July 12, 2007, seeking injunctive relief, according to the resolution; on Feb. 4, 2008, an agreed entry declared the property a public nuisance.

Woodruff said last week the property remains a source of code violations and generates a considerable number of calls for police service.

Gregory Tweedy, 27, said he moved into a unit at Woodcliff Condominiums only two weeks ago from the Refugee Road area of east Columbus.

"I'd like to see it cleaner, but some people just don't know how to take care of things," said Tweedy, adding he does not plan to stay more than a year.

The city levied the same complaints about code violations and calls for police service against the owners of the nearby Commons at Royal Landing, at the southeast corner of South Hamilton Road and East Broad Street, before the city and its New Jersey-based owners reached an agreement for the city to purchase it for $5 million.

Demolition began late last year and is almost complete; construction is expected to begin later this year on a $50 million mixed-use development by Continental Realty to be known as Norton Crossing.

City officials, if they choose to appropriate, will be acting on the findings of a study.

On Feb. 8, Whitehall adopted a comprehensive development plan, prepared by the Mannik Smith Group, documenting the public need to take the property for "the abatement of the public nuisance, specifically the blighted area (that) can most efficiently be accomplished by the demolition of the existing buildings and supporting infrastructure."

If passed, the resolution requires the city to notify the receiver of Woodcliff Condominiums at least 30 days in advance of filing any petition to appropriate any property.

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