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More buildings to be razed at Crowell-Collier

Demolishing three buildings at massive site should improve safety, redevelopment chances, city says.

Two more of the buildings that make up the massive Crowell-Collier Building — the single largest structure in Springfield — will be demolished, which city leaders say will improve safety and make the downtown site easier to redevelop.

Mosier Industrial Services also paid the city of Springfield a $15,000 fine for missing court-ordered deadlines.

As part of the agreement, Mosier will demolish Building F by Oct. 31 and Buildings J and K by the end of the year, City Law Director Jerry Strozdas said.

The demolitions will make the building much safer for pedestrians in the area, he said.

“There’s no question,” Strozdas said.

Mosier is looking into the best and most cost-effective options for redeveloping the property and are confident they can meet the new deadlines, its attorney Joe Reidy said.

“The city has expressed willingness to work with us and we’re happy to find a way to complete the redevelopment of the property in its entirety,” Reidy said.

The building — once the printing home of the world’s largest magazine publishing company — closed as a publishing plant in 1956, then was sold to Harry Denune in 1972. He used it to house his Dixie Distributing Co. motorcycle parts business.

The building caught fire in 1999 and again in 2011.

Clark County Common Pleas Judge Richard O’Neill ordered three years ago that it must be brought up to code after bricks fell off the building and that its contents must be removed by August 2012. Denune sold the building to Mosier in October 2011 for $1.5 million.

The city then filed a complaint against Mosier in July 2012 to set a timeline to clean out the 900,000-square-foot property due to safety concerns.

After several missed deadlines, the city returned to the court in March. O’Neill then ordered that Mosier would have to pay $800 per day if it missed new extended deadlines until the tasks were completed.

In May, the city filed a contempt motion because of more missed deadlines Strozdas said. Mosier was then found in contempt in July and ordered to pay a $15,000 fine for violating the March order.

The court also ordered Mosier to remove all contents, asbestos, electrical circuits, plumbing fixtures and cut and cap all waste lines by Oct. 31. Building F also must be demolished by this deadline.

The property owner was also ordered to submit a plan to replace the roof on Buildings J and K by Aug. 8.

“The roofs are leaking so bad, we’re worried about more masonry falling off,” Strozdas said.

On Aug. 5, Mosier told the city it’s not planning to replace the roofs, but will instead demolish Buildings J and K by the end of the year. The smokestack can remain if the owners choose, Strozdas said.

Mosier is making progress on removing items from the structure and has brought back asbestos crews, Strozdas said.

Over the last few months, elevator malfunctions have caused delays in the cleanup efforts.

“The elevator is so old that it regularly breaks down and they don’t make the parts for it anymore,” Reidy said. “We have to have people hand-make parts for it when it breaks. It’s a challenge.”

Once completed, the demolitions will provide more options for developers at the site, Strozdas said.

“When finished, this will take them down to two large, but less massive buildings, which we believe are less daunting redevelopment challenges than 900,000 or 1 million square feet for the whole block,” he said.

In recent years, several developments have occurred around the complex, including construction of the National Trail Parks and Recreation District Chiller downtown ice arena across the street. United Senior Services also recently purchased the nearby Eagles property, which it plans to redevelop.

Both the $250 million Springfield Regional Medical Center and the Ohio Valley Surgical Hospital have also been developed near the former publishing plant.

The building has been cited as a key piece of development efforts downtown. The site, which takes up an entire city block in downtown Springfield, was listed at $5 million by Real Estate II in November 2012.

The re-use of the building would be welcome for nearby businesses, said Jeremy Rogers, the assistant general manager for the Columbus-based Chiller. The company manages the ice arena. The building doesn’t send the best message for Springfield to the many out-of-town visitors using the new facility, he said.

“It’s not exactly rolling out the red carpet for our guests,” Rogers said. “It would be nice to see something new or see it reused.”

The building is still for sale, Reidy said.

“We’re aware that some folks may be interested, but we’re not in contract with anyone as we speak,” Reidy said.

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