Bizarre problem holding up Montgomery County Fairgrounds sale

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Governor John Kasich's

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Governor John Kasich and two other state officials will need to approve the Montgomery County Fairgrounds sale to the University of Dayton and Premier Health due to an arcane real estate issue involving the former Miami & Erie Canal.

“A little strip along the west side” of the Montgomery County Fairgrounds property is at issue, the fair’s attorney told the Dayton Daily News. The bizarre right-of-way problem is holding up the multi-million dollar sale, as the state commission with the authority to authorize the land transfer no longer exists.

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“The problem is it deals with the old Miami Canal property, which is under the authority of a board that doesn’t exist anymore,” said Alan Schaeffer, the Montgomery County Agricultural Society attorney.

The purchase agreement with UD and Premier references “Canal Land” which, essentially, would revert back to the state of Ohio if vacated by the fairgrounds. The former Miami & Erie Canal ran along the west side of the fairgrounds. The canal’s route alongside the Great Miami River is now Patterson Boulevard.

Getting the state’s approval on the project is a necessary component of the deal, according to the purchase agreement. If the approval is not given by the time of closing, the purchase price will be reduced by nearly $1 million, unless the state’s right of reverter on the land is subsequently released.

“There’s no problem with the underlying deal itself, it’s just getting this paperwork squared away,” Schaeffer said.

Kasich, Secretary of State Jon Husted, and Auditor of State Dave Yost will need to sign the deed on the land, Schaeffer said. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will also need to approve the sale.

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“They’ve been working on this for weeks,” Schaeffer said. “The state people didn’t have a good grasp of the process, even, because this is such a rare occurrence.”

In a statement, UD and Premier said the organizations are “committed to getting the project off to a strong start through collaboration and careful due diligence.”

“While this is a complex transaction, we remain committed to the project and are confident about working through due diligence matters so we are able to close in mid-April and take possession in October,” the organizations said.

The total deal is for $15 million with UD and Premier chipping in about $5.25 million each. The county will provide a $2 million credit on the purchase if the buyers agree to retain and rehab the historic roundhouse. The Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority also has a $2.5 million state allocation to contribute to the project.

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