Middletown building finalist in photo contest; voting ends Tuesday

A Middletown building is among the four finalists in Heritage Ohio's photo contest, which highlights empty downtown buildings that could be transformed into residential/commercial sites.

Voting continues until May 29 to choose a winner among the four, which are featured on Heritage Ohio’s website. The page has garnered more than 25,000 views since it was launched.

The Middletown photo — “Rustic Treasure” — features a Moser Safe Co. of Hamilton bank vault inside the Goetz Tower, the city’s tallest structure built in 1930.

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The Geotz Tower is a seven-story Art Deco building in the heart of downtown Middletown, located at the corner of Central Avenue and South Main Street.

Under the photo, the Goetz Tower is described as “a beautiful historic building that offers unique architectural features everywhere you turn inside and outside.”

Middletown is revitalizing its downtown and has been “very successful” in bringing new businesses and people over the last two years, according to the entry. Once renovated, this building will become another “destination location” for visitors and provide a home for new residents, the entry said.

“Every downtown that has come back from neglect and abandonment has done so with a residential component downtown,” the entry said. “The Geotz Tower is a crucial component in the revitalization of downtown Middletown.”

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In the past several years, several businesses have opened downtown, including the Pendleton Art Center, Triple Moon Coffee Shop, Murphy’s Landing, Gracie’s, Central Wine, Grandpa Joe’s Candy Store, The Slice and Blast Furnace Pizza.

More than three years ago, Middletown signed an agreement with two companies to redevelop Goetz Tower. Grassroots Ohio has been removed from the original agreement to renovate and restore the former Middletown Building and Deposit Association Building with a mix of retail, office and apartments.

Under the original agreement, the city granted a 100 percent tax exemption to improvements to real property for 12 years. The agreement specifies the project was to begin in December 2016, with completion of “all acquisition, construction and installation” by Dec. 31, 2017.

According to the amendment of the Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) Agreement, Historic Goetz Tower LLC will invest $3 million, plus or minus 10 percent, in improvements to the building.

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Jennifer Ekey, the economic development director for Middletown, has said she believes trendy urban living inside the Goetz Tower will be a large part of downtown’s revitalization.

“This will be our first foray into market-rate housing in our downtown,” Ekey has said. “That’s why this is such a critical piece for us in, sort of, the revitalization of downtown Middletown.”

The winner of the contest will receive an award for best photo, which will be featured on the cover of Heritage Ohio’s quarterly publication and be recognized at the Heritage Ohio Conference in the fall.

Heritage Ohio is “Ohio’s official historic preservation and Main Street organization” with a mission to preserve historic structures and revitalize downtowns and neighborhoods, according to the website.

To cast your vote, visit the photo contest page at www.heritageohio.org.

Staff writer Rich Wilson contributed to this report.

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