Former Piqua school considered for housing project

The city of Piqua is working with a Dayton-based developer on the reuse of the vacant former Bennett Junior High School property on South Main Street to include eight single-family houses.

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The city of Piqua is working with a Dayton-based developer on the reuse of the vacant former Bennett Junior High School property on South Main Street to include eight single-family houses.

PIQUA — The city is working with a Dayton-based developer on the reuse of the vacant former Bennett Junior High School property on South Main Street to include eight single-family houses.

A key part of the project moving forward was Piqua City Commission approval earlier this month of the sale of the city owned property at 625 S. Main St. to the Piqua Improvement Corporation for $1 plus ordinary closing costs.

The PIC, a non-profit community improvement corporation, in turn plans to sell the land for $1 to G.F. Bailey Co.

“G.F Bailey, in turn will be obligated to redevelop the site with eight new single family dwelling units with character and qualities agreed upon,” said Chris Schmiesing, Piqua’s development director.

“The result will be that the property – which was previously donated to the city for the purpose of facilitating redevelopment – will be redeveloped and a substantial new investment will be made in the neighborhood,” he said. The land was donated to the city by the Piqua City Schools following the demolition of the junior high building.

The reduced land cost is intended to incentivize the developer to take the risk on developing the project , and help lessen the expenses passed on to the future buyers of the homes as part of the purchase price, Schmiesing said.

“The goal is for the project to be successful in meeting a community need for more new housing options while revitalizing the area and exciting additional interest from others to take on new construction infill and home rehabilitation opportunities in the neighborhood,” he said.

The homes will be designed to fit into the character of the neighborhood with two stories, two to three bedrooms and a front porch.

Plans are being made for a small park along the front of the property near Main Street along with a view of the Great Miami River to the rear, said developer Tim Forbess, chief executive of G.F. Bailey Co.

The homes will be built of steel and concrete using his company’s trademarked StormStrong system designed with 155 mph wind resistance and noncombustible material, Forbess said. Each garage has a car charging port and high density insulation is used in the homes for high energy efficiency, he said.

“We don’t just build houses, we try to redevelop neighborhoods. It is a holistic neighborhood approach,” Forbess said.

This project is his company’s first in Miami County.

Piqua City commissioners said they liked what they saw.

“The product you are offering sounds like a great product,” said Commissioner Kris Lee.

“It would really improve that area … (It would be) the tip of the iceberg,” said Commissioner Cindy Pearson. “We appreciate your foresight.”

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

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