Future of LaMendola building unclear after sale finalized

The sale of the property from Huber Heights City Schools to Concept 1 Academy was finalized earlier this month, and the company could sell the property in a public auction and try to make a profit.

The Huber Heights Administration Committee is scheduled to discuss the LaMendola property at tonight’s meeting.

According to a city document attached to tonight’s agenda, the property is “scheduled to go back to public auction at a date to be determined. The anticipated reserve is $100,000.”

Concept 1 Academy co-owner Tari Darr would not confirm those details, only saying it is “one of the possibilities” the company is considering. The company initially wanted to turn the building into a facility for 32 male students ages 16 to 18 years old.

“We just closed a week ago,” Darr said. “We’re still meeting with our advisors. Right now, we are in the planning stage. We haven’t confirmed anything or moved forward.”

The Huber Heights school board approved Nov. 5 to amend the purchase agreement with Concept 1 Academy to include the purchase price for the 35,000-square-foot building.

Concept 1 Academy — a for-profit organization — won the bid in an auction Feb. 28 to acquire the property for $19,000 from Huber Heights City Schools. The school board approved the purchase agreement in March.

Councilman Mark Campbell, chair of the Administration Committee, said he expects the city to discuss tonight possible options for the property.

Those options could include: the city purchasing the property; extending the roadway; developing lots for residential or multi-family units; or converting it into park space.

“I would categorize our options as revitalization,” Campbell said. “We’ve had numerous calls to the police department to that facility because it’s been empty. If we can mitigate some of that and improve the conditions for the adjacent neighbors, that’s where the discussion can go.”

The 6.39-acre property, formerly LaMendola Elementary School, closed in 2011. The building housed the district’s nutrition services until the department moved into the new high school during the 2012-13 school year.

After the auction, the school district moved everything else out of LaMendola, which was built in 1971. Darr said the company’s made no upgrades to the building.

The two parties had been under contract, awaiting the city’s decision on Concept 1 Academy’s request to change the use of the property at 5363 Tilbury Road to a private residential academy.

But in September — just hours before Huber Heights City Council was expected to reject Concept 1 Academy’s plan — the company filed a notice of withdrawal with the city. No reason was given by Concept 1 Academy as to why it withdrew its application.

What is only approved for that site is an elementary school, and anything other than that would need to go through a major or minor change process with the city, assistant city manager Scott Falkowski said. It is zoned planned public and private buildings and grounds.

“We’re looking forward to working with anybody who wants to redevelop the property for the proper use for the good of the city and the surrounding neighborhoods,” Falkowski said.

Huber Heights Superintendent Sue Gunnell said the district is working with Concept 1 Academy in changing over the utilities, security systems and other maintenance items.

“Whatever the future is for that building, we hope that it’s good for the neighborhood,” Gunnell said.

Gunnell has said if a private business occupied LaMendola, it would pay $166,000 a year in property taxes, with $104,000 going to the school district.

In late July, the city’s Planning Commission denied Concept 1 Academy’s request after several residents expressed concerns about the proposed facility.

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