The Delaware County Land Reutilization Corporation (DCLRC), also known as the Delaware County Land Bank, met Wednesday to discuss several items, including the historic Delaware County Jail and former sheriff’s residence located at 20 W. Central Ave. in Delaware.
The Delaware County Board of Commissioners rejected all bids for the purchase of the historic county jail in December 2018, after posting the property for sale three times, with the intention of negotiating the potential transfer of the property to the DCLRC.
“What we found in this process is that the county commissioners are simply not set up to exactly really negotiate the sale of this property,” Aric Hochstettler, attorney for the commissioners, said in December when the board decided to move the property to the DCLRC. “By utilizing the land bank, it has much more flexibility with more tools at its disposal to find the best outcome for the property.”
According to Delaware County Treasurer Michael Ringle, a memorandum of understanding had been signed by the commissioners, but the property still needs to be transferred to the DCLRC.
“Now that it looks like the transfer of the historic jail to the land bank is imminent, we want to have some discussion as to what we want for a bid process,” he said.
The DCLRC board began to discuss a possible Request For Proposals (RFP) as one possible process.
“The only caution I have with the RFP approach is that we’ve been through it twice,” Commissioner Gary Merrell said. “My goal is that we get maximum value for the property whether it be a real estate agent and whatever that entails.”
County Administrator Michael Frommer said the feedback he received on the county’s previous bidding process was that there were too many unknowns with zoning, engineering, and working with the City of Delaware Historic Preservation Commission.
“To rehab the building really impacted their ability to meet the upfront capital demands,” he said.
Sitting in on the meeting Wednesday was presumptive Treasurer-elect Donald Rankey.
“You guys are going about this all wrong,” he said. “You’re giving somebody a project that they have to do all the work on with all kinds of unknowns. The first thing they are going to do is have an engineering firm come in to totally re-engineer the building’s mechanicals.”
Rankey said he perceives the role of the land bank as making a property more marketable by hiring the engineering firms to do surveys, conceptual plans, and cost analysis.
“Then there could be a discussion with this board on what we would like it to be once all the improvements were made,” he said. “We then would do the zoning so that we know what the permissible use would be.”
Rankey said at that point, the board would apply for grants to do as much of the renovation work as possible.
“You’ll then get the highest and best value for the property,” he said. “With us doing it, the land bank, control the type of use that goes in there so that the city is happy with it, the county commissioners are happy with it, and the treasurer is happy with it.”
Rankey suggested taking the next 30 days to write out policies and procedures on how the DCLRC would deal with future individual projects.
“From the discussions, we seem to have a lot of potential avenues to go,” Ringle said. “That is why the land bank is taking over the ownership of the property.”
According to the National Archives Catalog, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 12, 1990. The Queen Anne-style building was constructed in 1878 at a cost of $25,845, and it was designed by architect David W. Gibbs of Toledo.
Land reutilization corporations are given the authority to act on behalf of the county under Chapter 5722 of the Ohio Revised Code as the agency to reclaim abandoned or blighted properties to bring them back into productive use. Commissioners approved the adoption and implementation of the DCLRC on Jan. 28, 2017, making Delaware County the 50th county in the state to form a land reutilization corporation.