Nonprofit to buy historic Springfield site, market to open in summer


A year-round indoor marketplace could open this summer in downtown Springfield, according to a local nonprofit that’s buying the property.

Springfield city commissioners unanimously approved Tuesday night the sale of the historic Myers Market at 101 S. Fountain Ave. to SpringFORWARD for $100,000.

RELATED: City reviews sale for potential downtown farmers market

The organization is expected to invest $1.2 million to $1.5 million to renovate the property to its original use, Assistant Springfield City Manager and Economic Development Director Tom Franzen said. The plans calls for the building to become a year-round market and commercial kitchen, he said, similar to the 2nd Street Market in Dayton or North Market in Columbus.

“We expect it to create additional opportunities for entrepreneurs downtown and to bring visitors downtown,” Franzen said. “We see it as an investment from the city’s perspective as well.”

Portions of the market may seek a certificate of occupancy this summer, SpringFORWARD Executive Director Michael Greitzer said. The property will include about 20 spaces at the market and opportunities for seven to eight retail stores around the perimeter of the building, he said.

The group is expected to release more information about the project once the sale is finalized with the city later this month, Greitzer said.

MORE: Historic Springfield building could become year-round marketplace

The property was privately appraised for more than $600,000, Springfield City Manager Jim Bodenmiller said, but it was never placed for sale on the private market, he said. The property has been valued at more than $898,000 by the Clark County Auditor’s Office website.

Springfield City Commissioner Kevin O’Neill voted in favor of the project but said he would have liked for city staff members to open the sale up to the private market.

“It’s a really nice piece of property and it’s in downtown Springfield,” O’Neill said. “I know it was eventually going to be a liability the way our finances were leaning and just to maintain it could’ve been a problem … There are a lot of people who own brick-and-mortar places that are paying much more than they just paid.”

The building has been available for some time and the city got no other offers, Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said. The city also doesn’t need to own buildings it doesn’t know what to do with in the future, he said.

“We now own a couple buildings we’d also like to make sure somebody uses and we don’t get stuck with roofs that have to be fixed and that kind of stuff,” Copeland said. “While I understand (O’Neill’s) concern, I am grateful to not have to worry when the roof’s going to leak over there.”

RELATED: Clark County group to start food coalition, co-op

United Senior Services left the more than 100-year-old building on High Street in October 2016 after leasing the space from the city since 1981. The organization recently moved to the former Eagles property on West Main Street after a $6.7 million renovation there.

The building had been eyed by the Dayton-based Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, which previously had a location at the Upper Valley Mall. The museum drew more than 25,000 visitors in 2014 and 21,000 visitors in 2015, but closed the location due to declining foot traffic.

Museum leaders had considered reopening at a location in downtown Springfield but decided against that because of the cost to redo the building. The Boonshoft board wanted to raise $4 million for the project, including $2 million for renovations and $2 million for an endowment.

SpringFORWARD toured several marketplaces in Ohio, Greitzer said. The kitchen will mostly resemble that of 1400 Food Lab in Columbus, which describes itself as “an incubator for start-up food businesses, a test kitchen for recipes and ideas, and a food experience center for everyone.”

The year-round market won’t affect the Farmers Market held weekly in the summer by the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, Greitzer said. The farmers market recently expanded to winter months and is currently being held each Saturday at Mother Stewart’s Brewing Co. on West North Street.

“There will always be producers that want to sell on a Saturday,” Greitzer said. “That’s not going away.”

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