The City of Columbus has for years desired to commercially develop about 10 acres of land just east of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department. The stumbling block, however, had been the inability to obtain one parcel that was home to a longtime business.
Now, the last piece of the puzzle has fallen into place with the city purchasing the property at 711 Second St. that had been home to Bob’s Car Wash.
The city paid $300,000 for the property that is a little more than a half-acre and agreed to pay all remediation costs for environmental issues, liens, encumbrances, closing costs and prior unpaid property taxes.
That’s a big investment — although cheaper than the city’s $500,000 offer that was rejected in 2012 — but development could yield a big return that benefits the city. We hope so.
The 10 acres have a much better chance being developed as one package. Two potential developers came forward with ideas two years ago when the city tried to facilitate development of this site not far from downtown. One proposed apartment buildings. The other a seven-story, mixed-use building with retail space, apartments and townhomes. However, the biggest obstacle and ultimate deal-breaker was the prospect of having to negotiate with the car wash property’s owner and paying a steep price.
Now that the city has purchased the remaining acreage on Second Street across from Lafayette Avenue, there’s nothing standing in the way of creating a plan and selling the entire 10 acres to a developer. That would add to the city’s tax rolls valuable property that has been sitting idle.
We hope, though, that the city takes time to seek and utilize public input on what might be desired and beneficial for the downtown-area property in its efforts to find the right use with the maximum benefit.
No idea should be quickly dismissed. The city has a lot to gain with development of the 10 acres.
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