Paper firm to demolish building, give land to West Carrollton

After cleanup, 5 acres will be available to city for redevelopment.

A 119-year-old former paper mill near the center of town is set to be demolished this week and the site cleaned up before being given to the city.

Demolition of the 40,000 square foot building that housed the former Ahlstrom West Carrollton LLC — and the cleanup of the 5 acres at 1 S. Elm St. on which it sits — will be paid for by the company, a move which likely saves the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A specific time for the demolition — the contractor for which is Steve R. Rauch Inc. — has not been set, but lane closures on Elm and Central Avenue will be necessary during the building’s razing, according to the city. Ahlstrom will take care of all environmental issues within the next three months, allowing the city to immediately start marketing the land, officials said.

“This is not a cheap endeavor for them,” said West Carrollton City Manager Brad Townsend. “They’re doing the right thing by not leaving us with a mess. And we’re very grateful for that.

“It eliminates a potential hazard, a liability for us in the future,” he added. “And opens up those reuse possibilities.”

The site is adjacent to about 16 acres of former Fraser Papers land the city is rehabilitating on the north side of rail road tracks and more than 47 acres south of the tracks as it acquires grant dollars, said Tom Ross, West Carrollton economic development director. Together, the two properties gives a sizeable piece of downtown land over which it will have full development authority.

“Just having site control will be significant,” Townsend said.

Both properties are part of West Carrollton’s City Center and are zoned for Planned Unit Development, which allows for “a lot of options at this location,” according to Ross.

The Ahlstrom structure was built in 1896 and has housed a paper mill since, according to the city. Ahlstrom acquired the West Carrollton Parchment Co. in 2008 and employed about 90 workers before shutting down in 2012, officials said.

Ahlstrom officials declined disclose the cost of the cleanup. But the city’s cost to buy and cleanup the former Fraser Papers property on Elm — albeit a much larger site — has cost more than $1 million.

Given the proximity to the former Fraser land, Ahlstrom’s decision to finance the demolition, cleanup and donate its land was in the city’s best interest, according to Brandon Carpenter, a company spokesman.

“Ahlstrom wanted our site to be used to help promote future growth in the city … and the best way to do that was to prepare the property for that future development,” Carpenter stated in an email.

“Through discussions with the city, it was decided the best way to promote the future growth and development of the site was to raze the buildings…,” he added. “Donating the property to the city after the cleanup will allow the city to market and develop the site to fit their plans for future growth.”

Environmental abatement of asbestos has already begun on site, according to the city, and an updated construction schedule will be released as it becomes available.

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