Tipp City hires consultant, hopes to solve issues at key commercial plaza

City frustrated with owner; former Montgomery County administrator Tuss will do feasibility analysis of area

TIPP CITY — City officials are working to find solutions for long-term maintenance and vacancy issues at the high-priority Tipp City Plaza property that greets visitors just as they get off I-75.

The city has struggled with the shopping center property’s upkeep in recent years, as it deals with vacancies large (the former Food Town grocery) and small (the former Burger King right at the Plaza entrance).

Now a former Montgomery County administrator with a background in development is being hired by Tipp City officials in search of solutions. The feasibility analysis by Joseph Tuss of JT Development Consulting of Dayton also will encompass the nearby businesses in the area just east of the I-75 Exit 68 interchange with West Main Street.

City council frequently hears complaints about the parking lot, the vacancies and the property’s overall appearance. City staff has looked the past couple of years into possibilities for redevelopment of the property, either through the city or current ownership.

In the meantime, City Manager Tim Eggleston has contacted the owners, including Johnny Eggleston of Kentucky and partners about concerns. The city recently filed court action that resulted in a fine. The two Egglestons are not related.

“We have gotten some of the potholes filled, and they did one patch strip in front of building to take care of the really, really bad potholes. They are not going to do anything further with parking lot,” John Green, city finance director, told city council in a presentation on the hiring of JT Development.

Some trees and weeds around the vacant Burger King building were removed following a city request.

“They do just enough to keep ahead of us and the compliance issues,” Green said.

The city will pay Tuss up to $10,000 to study the area. The City Council, which has listed the uptown area that includes the property as a priority, supported the hiring after the September presentation.

“Mr. Tuss will be analyzing the debt and possible acquisition costs to determine the viability for redevelopment. If the income potential is not there, it will be very difficult to sell the idea to a developer,” Tim Eggleston said.

Among the study goals, Green said, are:

** Assess the current status, the viability of the property and the study area;

** Identify potential redevelopment options;

** Develop an economic feasibility model to examine viability and effectiveness of development, financing and strategies

“I think that would give us a blueprint on what we potentially — either through the city or in conjunction with a private developer — could do with the property,” Green said.

If Tuss gets halfway through the study and doesn’t progress for a good outcome, he will end the effort, Green said. “We will call it (the study) and move on doing what we are doing now, chasing the current owner.”

Council members verbally supported the study.

“I think we have made it clear that area is a priority,” said Council President Kathryn Huffman.

Fellow council member Robert Schwab agreed. “This is a person who has strong experience in regional development. He is going to have a point of view as to what a master plan will look like in consultation with us as well as the community,” Schwab said.

Councilman Ryan Liddy said the study also could help the city with a long-term strategy for maintenance of properties and related issues.

The analysis is expected to take around three months.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

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