After anchoring the South Side for a more than a century, the Columbus Castings foundry is largely reduced to rubble, raising questions and hopes about what will take its place.

About 90 percent of the enormous factory that once made steel castings for rail cars is gone. Demolition will be complete by the end of the year, said Jonathan Reich, the co-CEO of Reich Brothers, the New York-based company that bought the Parsons Avenue property in 2016 out of bankruptcy court. 

In an email, Reich said "most but potentially not all" buildings will be demolished.

There has been a lot of interest in the site, said Joe Kimener, senior associate in the Columbus office of the real estate firm CBRE, which is listing the property for sale.

Kimener said he said he could not identify potential buyers but expects the property to remain a manufacturing or industrial warehouse location.

>>Video: Columbus Castings Demolition in August

The listing for the property suggests uses for the property that draw upon the multiple railroad spurs that run into the site such as a big box warehouse or a rail distribution site.

Neighbors would welcome any business on the 76-acre site, which has been idle since the plant closed in 2016.

"What people want to see actually is businesses that bring jobs down south," said Amir Taghavi, owner of Parsons Auto Parts across the street from Columbus Castings. "That's the biggest thing."

At its peak, Columbus Castings — for years known as Buckeye Steel Castings — had 44 acres under roof and employed more than 2,000 workers.

With the jobs, however, came air-quality problems. The ground under the factory, however, may not require cleanup, said Curtis Davis, zoning chairman for the South Side Area Commission.

“So far, I don’t think it’s going to be an issue,” he said.

>>Video: Buckeye Steel: halfway gone

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is expected to submit a "no further action" letter by the end of the year, Reich said in an email. An NFA letter describes the environmental problems found at a site, how they were investigated and how the site was cleaned. According to the EPA website, a “no further action” decision is taken after determining a brownfield site enrolled does not pose a risk to people’s health or the environment.

Columbus Castings pleaded guilty in July 2011 in federal court to six criminal charges, including knowingly operating the foundry with malfunctioning air-pollution filters, failing to report violations and failing to monitor and test filtering equipment. A judge ordered the company to install new pollution controls and fined the company $660,000.

Some potential uses on the site such as residential would require rezoning and possibly more environmental cleanup, according to the listing for the property.

Businesses that served Columbus Castings' workers have taken a hit and are eager to see something new.

"It hurt us when they closed down so it would help us if they put something else back in there,” said Cheryl Toppings, district manager of Certified Oil.

Toppings said workers would commonly walk down Parsons Avenue to her gas station and grab something to eat during their 30-minute lunch break.

“This was a lunch destination to everyone who worked over there," she said.

Mae Hicks of Mae’s Produce on Marion Road said it would be nice to see medical buildings, housing or stores on the former foundry site, but she likes the idea of it remaining an industrial site.

“Give people jobs here on the South end,” Hicks said. “That would be the best."

She said a lot of the Columbus Castings workers stopped at her store when they worked there.

"I miss it over there," Hicks said. "It hurt everybody."