Lebanon fire station proposed for entrepreneurial co-working outpost

A local businessman wants to redevelop the downtown Lebanon Fire Station into a local center for co-working and the business needs of entrepreneurs and employees working remotely for companies around the world.

Ryan Powers, owner of two small businesses based in Lebanon, is scheduled to meet Tuesday with Lebanon City Council about building the latest outpost for COhatch, a Columbus-based company that sets up office and co-working and meeting spaces in old downtown buildings.

The company is already set up around Columbus, in Springfield and Fairborn, and looking at a location in Piqua, according to Patrick Williams, a principal in COhatch locations in Springfield and Fairborn.

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“There isn’t here anything like that,” Powers said Monday sitting in his office in Lebanon, just a short walk from the fire station.

From here, Powers, a marketing graduate from the University of Cincinnati, runs his two businesses, Uprise Nutrition and SoundFox.

The new Lebanon fire station is to be built north of downtown Lebanon on the Warren County Fairgrounds.

RELATED: Lebanon buys fairgrounds land for fire station

The current station, a converted laundromat had been the city’s main station since 1985. It is to be sold as a result of the passage of a fire levy last November to pay for the new station.

The building — with door clearances so low a new ladder truck wouldn’t fit inside — sits next to the new LCNB bank administrative center.

It could be razed to make room for more bank parking, but is to be sold to the highest bidder, according to city officials.

Powers has already met with city staff and is to talk about his vision for the building with its elected leaders Tuesday during a council work session.

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“City Council has indicated that when the property is ready to be sold, they want to issue a Request For Proposals to determine what the level of private interest is in the building and what the best redevelopment opportunity for the Community may be,” Brunka said last week in an email.

Powers, who lives outside Lebanon, said he believed redeveloping the space for entrepreneurs to collaborate and workers in need of temporary of permanent remote offices or meeting spaces would be better for the city.

Powers said he has been pursuing his vision since meeting last December with Williams, part of COhatch developments in Springfield and Fairborn.

In Fairborn, the city’s food-related business incubator at 305 W. Main St. is being redeveloped.

In Springfield, an historic Springfield farmer’s market is to be redeveloped through a $1.75 million renovation.

RELATED: Springfield renovation continues as COhatch starts other projects

In the Columbus area, COhatch already has two locations in Worthington, one in the Polaris Mall and, north of Columbus, in downtown Delaware. Others are under development or study in Upper Arlington and Dublin, Williams said.

“It’s about the building that they find,” Powers said, adding city support is also essential. “We want the city to be invested in the concept, whatever that means.”

COhatch customers are members who have access to all the company’s sites.

“If you belong to one. You belong to all,” Williams said, predicting the concept would expand quickly.

“Once they figure out what COhatch is and what they do, everybody wants one.”

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