Allen County Commissioners Optimistic About New Downtown Administration Building
LIMA — As Allen County commissioners considered how to consolidate various county offices under one roof, the prospects for staying downtown looked bleak for a long time, as commissioners began to resign themselves to the idea of build a new facility near Commerce Parkway off St. Johns Route.
However, a recent meeting with Good Food Restaurants President John Heaphy makes the prospect of Allen County offices staying downtown not only feasible, but also increasingly likely.
Heaphy is the owner of 237 N. Main St., formerly occupied by men’s clothing store Hofeller, Hiatt and Clark. According to Commissioner Brian Winegardner, Heaphy recently approached the commissioners to obtain this property and the parcels surrounding it, including the brick building at 221 N. Main St., to construct a new county administrative facility, which could contain agencies such as the county auditor. , Archivist, Treasurer, Buildings and Grounds, Coroner and Commissioners Office, among others.
“If you can imagine from North Street to the driveway where you enter Citizens National Bank and then back there’s another north-south driveway, that would definitely be that area,” Winegardner said. “We also try to work with the city. There is a small parking lot on the west side of this driveway across from the theater (Ohio). We’re trying to find a deal where maybe we can incorporate that.
Working with that footprint could help address issues like parking so it doesn’t put additional pressure on available street parking, Winegardner said.
Winegardner also said Heaphy and city officials have been great partners in this endeavor.
“It looks like a win-win for everyone,” he said. “Heaphy is great to work with and he really has a passion for downtown Lima. He wants to see downtown succeed, and so does Mayor (Sharetta) Smith.
Negotiations are still ongoing to purchase the property, but on Thursday a representative from the WDC Design Group met with county agencies to review each agency’s needs in a new space. According to Winegardner, the schedule for this project would see the design of the new building completed and ready for review by the end of July. If all goes according to plan, a site survey will take place in August or September, with documentation completed over the winter, as well as a request for quotations. Pre-construction could then begin as early as March 2024, with the facility complete by the end of 2025 and agencies beginning to move into the new facility in 2026.
Winegardner hopes keeping county agencies downtown will help continue the city’s downtown revitalization efforts.
“With buildings like this, you’re going to see a lot more traffic,” he said. “I think it will attract more potential customers, maybe a few small restaurants. I just see what the city has done, what Rotary has done with the amphitheater and now this, I really think downtown is moving in the right direction.
Although the final cost of acquiring the property as well as the cost of construction have yet to be determined, Winegardner said the majority of the cost will be covered by American Rescue Plan Act funds that the county has received as well as by the investment funds received by the State. casinos.