Citing environmental contamination, the Bexley Community Improvement Corp. plans to demolish two properties at 941 and 945 Ferndale Place in southwest Bexley, Mayor Ben Kessler said.

The CIC, a nonprofit organization that promotes development in Bexley, purchased the properties in late 2017 through a city program designed to promote redevelopment in the Ferndale Place/Mayfield Place area. Through the program, the CIC acquires properties in the area as they become available, with the intention of renovating them and eventually selling them back to private owners.

A study that environmental consultant Atul Pandey conducted for the city in early 2018 found that contamination from the area's former use as a landfill has rendered the two CIC-owned properties unfit for human occupation.

The city assisted residents in relocating in 2018, and the properties are now vacant, Kessler said.

"The soil on the properties has levels of lead, arsenic and petroleum byproducts that exceed EPA standards for human health and in order to remediate the environmental conditions demotion is necessary," he said.

At the CIC's first monthly meeting of 2020 on Jan. 7, Jacob Hiestand, a program and property specialist with the Central Ohio Community Improvement Corp., said his organization could carry out the demolition of the Ferndale Place properties.

The organization's mission is to acquire properties in order to improve the quality of neighborhoods, according to the organization's website, cocic.org.

"Most of the times in these situations, we will bear all the costs in the demolition," Hiestand said. "It will depend on asbestos."

Kessler said Bexley's negotiations with the Central Ohio Community Improvement Corporation are ongoing and any potential cost Bexley might have to cover related to asbestos remediation would be determined after an agreement between the city and the agency would be created.

The demolition of the Ferndale Place properties is projected to occur in the next six months, Kessler said. The city will continue to work with Franklin County Public Health to test the remaining 17 residential duplexes in the Ferndale Place/Mayfield Place neighborhood for contamination, he said.

"All of these properties appear to have been constructed on an unlicensed and unregulated landfill that was not properly capped upon closure," Kessler said. "We are committed to ensuring safe living conditions in the area and also to making sure we aren't displacing much-needed affordable-housing options in Bexley. The city is working diligently with an affordable-housing development party to formulate viable plans for the area, based on these principles."

Kessler said a 72-unit housing development on Mayfield Place was found to have similar contamination and was environmentally remediated in mid- to late 2019 through Ohio Water Development Authority grant funding. The grant provided $308,000, according to Ordinance 12-19, legislation council approved last spring to create a community-reinvestment area for southwest Bexley.

"That property was able to be remediated (without demolition) because of different building construction and occupancy details and different site conditions," he said.

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