Decision to demolish downtown Troy building delayed

TROY – A proposal to demolish a Main Street building that housed an early county courthouse and was damaged in the January 2020 tornado that hit downtown Troy, was tabled again last week by the city Planning Commission.

The vote to table was requested by commission member Larry Wolke, a former city service/safety director, who said a city law director opinion was needed on potential liability questions raised by Jeremy Tomb, the attorney for the owner of an adjacent building.

A motion to table was approved unanimously with the commission saying the issue would be back at its Oct. 13 meeting.

Tomb said in comments and in an email to the commission that demolition plans were not complete and expressed concern about possible damage to adjacent buildings during any demolition. If the city did not require a proper bond and damage occurred or someone was injured, the city and those who approved demolition could be held personally liable, Tomb said.

The commission heard comments from demolition backers, including owner Randy Kimmel of Covington and his attorney Derek Muncy, and The Troy Historic Preservation Alliance that is waging a public campaign to save the Tavern Building at 112-118 W. Main St.

Comments also came from other community members. Comments at times were met by cheers, applause and aggressive replies.

Those supporting demolition argued it was not financially feasible to make needed building repairs, creating an economic hardship for the owner. “Repairs are just not economically feasible,” Muncy said, adding that even with tax incentives explored the owners still couldn’t afford the renovation costs.

Those opposing demolition said the owner didn’t meet the code criteria for demolition and needed to respect the building’s history including the courtroom that has a link to the city’s early African Americans history. Local historian Terry Purke said the Ohio black laws in the mid-1800s required records associated with blacks’ compliance with the laws that would have been kept in the courtroom.

“We are asking you to be on the right side of history when you take your vote,” Chris Manning of the preservation alliance said in comments earlier in the discussion.

The commission first considered a demolition proposal in fall 2020 before a decision was delayed structural analyses and potential buyers explored possibilities for use and costs and then the application to demolish was withdrawn.

Another demolition request was filed this summer. The first demolition request was not recommended by city staff. Its proposed reuse of the downtown site was for parking.

The current demolition request is supported by city staff. Its written reuse proposal includes filling in the site and preparing for development.

The commission was told Wednesday there again is a contract to buy the property with an eye toward putting a boutique hotel in its place. Demolition of the existing brick structure built in 1840 and 1902 is a condition for sale by the party exploring purchase.

Several other speakers commented on inquiries the Troy Miami County Public Library made into the building. At the time, the library board was not aware of the most recent contract to buy, said Rachelle Via, library executive director.

The library has proposed a new $15 million library on the grounds of the current library a few blocks west on Main Street. Much work would need to be done on exploring possible library use of the building and public support to fund a portion of a project would be needed, Via said.

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