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City to clear former REMC lot

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Columbus officials are moving ahead with plans to demolish the former electricity co-operative buildings on Second Street, clearing the property for future development.

The city acquired the former Bartholomew County REMC property at 801 Second St. last year. It was purchased from REMC in 2009 by a city-affiliated nonprofit company as part of efforts to build an indoor sports complex at the location.

Two of the three buildings on the property were damaged in the June 2008 flood, said Heather Pope, the city’s economic development director. The demolition would be paid for from a federal grant to repair flood damage, she said.

The Columbus Redevelopment Commission is scheduled to discuss the demolition at its meeting Monday and to consider entering into a contract with Administrative Resource Association of Columbus to administer the grant.

Under the grant, the city has to seek bids for the demolition by June 30 and have the work finished by June 2014. The grant would be for $126,000, with the city responsible for 10 percent, or $12,600.

The largest building on the property is a steel-frame structure. Pope said the Redevelopment Commission could consider trying to sell the steel building for salvage, which could change the costs of the demolition and the grant amount.

Should that happen, ARA would ask the commission to table its contract to manage the grant until the new amounts can be calculated, Pope said.

The property actually was purchased from REMC as part of a land-swap deal by Columbus Downtown Inc., a nonprofit created during the previous city administration to foster downtown development.

Mayor Kristen Brown has made it a priority to free the city from its CDI responsibilities, and the property was turned over to the Redevelopment Commission last year along with other CDI properties.

Pope said there has been some interest from the community in leasing the property’s largest building.

It once was considered as a location for a grocery co-op. However the city is not interested in becoming a landlord again, she said. An appraisal recommended charging $6,980 a month in monthly rent for the building, she added.

A neighboring property at Second Street and Lafayette Avenue was found to have been contaminated by the former creosote plant that burned down at the location.

However the former REMC property was found to be unpolluted during 2009 inspections, Pope said.

The property could be sold to a developer or offered as an incentive for a yet-to-be-identified project, Pope said.

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