Bank project receiving over half of $1.5 million in state funds

Lebanon will use racetrack redevelopment money on LCNB’s headquarters.

The city of Lebanon plans to devote $895,000 of its $1.5 million share of racetrack redevelopment funds to LCNB Corp’s $9.3 million headquarters building project.

The committee that was formed to distribute up to $3 million set aside for cities that lost racetracks due to legalization of racinos in Ohio voted Wednesday to apply to the Ohio Development Services Agency for the bank project funding.

The other $1.5 million is to go to Warren County to help redevelop the county fairgrounds where the horse races were held before the move to the Miami Valley Gaming racino in Turtlecreek Twp., west of Lebanon.

The city also donated the former community center property to the project, which is expected to result in construction of a three-story, 45,000-square-foot building on 2.3 acres on the northwest corner of Broadway and Silver Street, the northern gateway to downtown Lebanon.

On Monday night, Lebanon City Council discussed using $895,000 of the racetrack redevelopment money to cover the bank's costs for environmental cleanup, architectural services and site preparation, rather than $700,000 as previously projected.

“I can see how the public might be very critical of that,” Councilwoman Wendy Monroe said during Monday’s discussion. “Are we sure we’re not going to regret this?”

The funds will also cover $195,000 LCNB is to spend on streetscape on both sides of Silver Street leading from Broadway to Sycamore Street, as well as improvements to Sycamore Street. Financial information included in the application provided updated figures on how much the bank would spend and what close to $1 million in racetrack redevelopment funds would pay for, including all architectural costs, as well the costs of demolition, environmental cleanup and site preparation.

The state has already approved $81,000 in racetrack redevelopment money to help offset the costs of demolition of the city's former service garage, just south of the south end of the 97-acre fairgrounds. On Wednesday, city officials said this project would cost more than anticipated, due to expenses for asbestos removal.

The funds could also be used to offset costs from work on turning a block of Mulberry Street, off Broadway, into a pedestrian plaza.

LCNB is expected to spend $8.4 million, while keeping its main office in downtown Lebanon and adding up to 25 new workers in coming years.

“This grant money is for economic development,” Clements said near the end of Monday’s discussion. “What is the most significant positive impact?”

On Tuesday, Bunnell Hill, the developer of the LCNB project, presented plans for the development to the Lebanon Planning Commission, but city officials said Thursday there were no records available, since no plans had been filed with the city.

The LCNB project is almost a mile from the Lebanon Raceway, but city officials hope it will help revitalize the historic downtown district.

“The new facility will revitalize this area,” said Jason Millard, economic development director for the city. “We’re hoping it encourages further reinvestment.”

Also Wednesday, Warren County Commissioner Pat South said the county was “very close” to a new contract with the Warren County Agricultural Society, which manages the fairgrounds.

South said the fairgrounds redevelopment costs “far exceed the $1.5 million” in state racetrack redevelopment funds available to the county.

The operators of the racino have pledged $3 million over five years to help pay for fairgrounds redevelopment.

A preliminary list of potential projects exceeds $15 million.

South said the county planned to start with streetscape improvements along Broadway, in front of the fairgrounds.

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