Richland County Land Bank to Acquire Former Westinghouse Building


Richland County Lank Bank is considering acquiring a former Westinghouse building that has dominated Fifth Avenue for the past three decades.

On Wednesday, the land reuse company agreed to spend more than $ 16,000 to conduct an environmental assessment of 200 Fifth Ave.

Ernie Coffman bought the building in 2008. His extended family intended to develop it, but their plans turned out to be too expensive, said Jennifer Kime, CEO of Downtown Mansfield.

“They bought it with good intentions,” Kime added. “But ran into complications.”

In all likelihood, the Coffman family will donate the building to the Land Bank, whose informal motto is “If not us, then who?”

“The building is in bad shape,” Kime said. “It needs a lot of work. Whether he gets rehabilitated in the future or not… we don’t know. But something has to happen to him.”

Westinghouse, which manufactured consumer goods and household appliances, closed in 1989. It reached its peak after World War II.

The first phase of the environmental assessment is expected to last six to ten weeks and will include historical research. Soil samples will then be taken to see if there is contamination.

The building at 200 Fifth Ave.  has been dormant for at least three decades.

“I guess three to four months on everything,” said Amy Hamrick, director of the Richland County Land Bank.

Richland County Commissioner Tony Vero told fellow Land Bank board members that a “Westinghouse Team Force” had been meeting for several months.

The group includes Vero, Kime, Hamrick, Mansfield Mayor Tim Theaker, Dave Remy, the city’s director of public works, chamber chairperson Jodie Perry, Marc Milliron of the city’s building and codes department and JR Rice of the Land Bank.

Vero said the demolition of the building could cost at least $ 1 million, excluding asbestos removal. It is not known if it could be restored to its former glory.

Vero estimated that $ 4-5 million would be needed to “strengthen” the five-story building, from which dozens of windows were smashed.

Acquiring adjacent plots is imperative to “fully exploit the potential of this area,” Vero said.

The informal currency of the Richland County Lank Bank is "if not us, then who?"

Part of the reason the five-story building has been dormant for so long is because it’s landlocked.

“You have rail tracks to the west, then you have another 13-14 acre parcel,” Vero said. “Part of the reason the building sat there is that there are a lot of things that are not working in its favor.”

Vero has tracked down some of the owners of adjacent plots, one of whom has expressed a timid interest in working with the Land Bank.

“It will be a process,” Vero said. “Let’s be honest.”

“If we don’t start the domino process to get this parcel, who can say it can’t be sold to another owner and the building just sits there?” “

The Land Bank expects to receive new funding from the state: at least $ 1 million for brownfield remediation and $ 500,000 for demolition.

The state plans to distribute an additional $ 500 million project by project.

“We don’t know exactly how it’s going to work, but it’s pretty obvious that when you start working and spend your money, there is more money,” said Bart Hamilton, Chairman of the Board and Treasurer of the Richland County.

“The sooner we can line up our things and get them ready, we’ll be in a much better position,” Hamilton added.

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Twitter: @monroetrombly


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