Delaware County Commissioners rejected all bids Thursday for the purchase of the historic county jail and former sheriff’s home located at 20 W. Central Ave., Delaware.
“We just want to make sure we get this right,” Commissioner Gary Merrell said. “We want to protect that building and make sure the building is historically maintained. We just want to get it right.”
Commissioners had originally scheduled the rejection of the bids for Thursday, May 3, but were persuaded by local attorneys Micheal Cox and Nick Mango to have the item pulled from the agenda.
According to Jon Melvin, county facilities director, Cox and Mango had placed the highest bid, $156,000, of the two bids received on the property. The other bid was for $10,000 from Roxanne Amidon, owner of Amidonian on West Winter Street, Delaware.
“I don’t believe opening this up again is going to reap a much larger amount for the county,” Cox argued for moving forward with the selling of the property. “I’ve got to think when I look at these bids there have to be two primary concerns that the county should have, dollars and intended use.”
Cox warned commissioners that any other use could be “fraught with the possibility of leaving an eyesore on the corner.” He used the building at the corner of North Franklin Street and West Lincoln Avenue as an example. The historic building was converted to a nursing home that has long been out of business.
“The city and the county, and the neighborhood, have lost a beautiful building that may never be brought back,” he said. “Certainly, there couldn’t be any reasonable objection to using that building (historic jail) the way it has been used, which is what we intend to do. We intend to keep it within the fabric of the legal community. We intend to continue to use it as a law office.”
In February, commissioners authorized the publication of notice that the county had put the building up for sale. At that time, Melvin stated that the easiest way to see if there was any interest in the building was to “put it out for sealed bids” with the commissioners having the right to reject all bids.
Aric Hochstettler, assistant prosecuting attorney, said the recommendation was to go back and redo the advertisement, which would include all the criteria that had come forward since the original notice had been published.
“When the advertisement was put together, it was just for a price. There were no additional criteria,” Hochstettler said. “Both bidders that have responded have provided additional information that the commissioners would like to take into account but are not in the position legally to negotiate on unannounced criteria.”
Commissioner Jeff Benton said there had been significant interest in the historical property, but they chose not to submit bids.
“I think it would be a good idea to pause, reject the bids, and go through a more refined process,” he said. “I also want to reiterate that we really do want to protect the building, as well as price and use (of the building) and so on.”
Once outside the meeting room, Cox and Mango said they were still interested in purchasing the historic jail, but they would need to wait to see what the new criteria were before entering a new bid.
“I don’t know by adding additional criteria or restrictions it increases additional interest. We’ll have to see what those are and how it plays out,” Cox said. “Certainly, from the people who submitted the bids, it doesn’t seem there’s substantial interest outside of the two people that did submit and wanted it.”
The building was constructed in 1878 at a cost of $25,845 and designed by architect David W. Gibbs of Toledo. The first jail was a 12-by-24 log cabin built in 1814, and a second jail was constructed in 1850. The historic jail now up for sale was the third jail constructed for the county.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902 or follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.