Huber Heights opens free nonprofit events space owned by the city

'The Barn at the The Heights' is a open-air barn the city of Huber Heights owns. The city planned to open it to the public last year but it was delayed due to COVID-19. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
'The Barn at the The Heights' is a open-air barn the city of Huber Heights owns. The city planned to open it to the public last year but it was delayed due to COVID-19. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Huber Heights has a new space available for nonprofits to use for events.

The Barn is part of a 52-acre property the city bought in 2019 and is working to sell to a developer, said assistant city manager Bryan Chodkowski. The barn sits on about three acres on the eastern side of the property. When the city bought the property, Chodkowski said the city wanted to use the barn while they had it.

It works like this: the city contracts with a nonprofit to use the space for free for an event for the weekend. The nonprofit would then work with local food trucks and breweries. All agree to promote the event on their social media. That helps both the city and the nonprofit, and creates a space where people can gather.

“The thought was, that’s a good way to get people there,” Chodkowski said.

ALT Architecture worked with the city on this project.

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However, just as the city opened the barn, COVID-19 hit, so there hasn’t been as much use of the barn as they would have liked, Chodkowski said.

“We’re hopeful that now with the restrictions coming off, in June that some folks are going to take an interest in using it and try to take advantage of it while it’s here,” Chodkowski said.

Huber Heights made about $100,000 worth of improvements to the barn, including adding a sound system that can be taken out when the property sells and some garden games, like cornhole.

Chodkowski said the city will eventually sell the land to a developer, as they have with previous projects. This is not the first time the city has held land until a developer buys it, but Chodkowski said it is the first time to his knowledge the city is trying anything like the barn project.

He said the barn project will help the community because it helps quality of life in the city. Nonprofits who work in the community get marketing and attention to their organization.

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“They, in turn, invest in Huber Heights. That maintains or improves the quality of life available to our residents,” Chodkowski said. “And that’s why we want people to be able to take advantage of this.”

Sarah Williams, Huber Heights community engagement specialist, said nonprofits need spaces like this one. Williams, who has a background in nonprofits, noted many nonprofits have been hit hard by COVID-19.

Williams said with a lot of nonprofit organizations, donors will give specifically to projects, but not think about operational costs of a nonprofit.

“So being able to have a facility where nonprofits can come and do fundraising events like this, that helps them to not only fund those specific projects that they’re doing, but then also to have those operational dollars that are so essential to the underlying piece of every single one of their missions,” Williams said.

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