By Sam Wildow
TROY — The Troy Planning Commission on Wednesday voted again to table a Historic District application for demolition for the downtown property located at 112-118 W. Main St., also referred to as the IOOF building.
The Planning Commission heard over two hours of comments from city staff, the public, and those seeking the approval to demolish the building, including the owner, Randy Kimmel of 116 West Main LLC.
“We’re going over and over the same thing,” Kimmel said. “It’s just not economically feasible. We didn’t plan on doing this. We didn’t ask for the tornado. We bought the building, and in August (of 2019), we got a certified occupancy permit. We got a food service license because we cleaned up the inside of the building.” He said they planned on starting other repairs in the spring of 2020, but then the building was damaged by a tornado in January 2020.
“Well, the tornado came and put everything on hold, and it turns out after a year and 10 months, we’re back to starting over again. It’s not economically feasible to save that building without somebody stepping up to the plate with a big donor,” Kimmel said. He said they have been through grants and loans, but it was not enough.
During the discussion on the demolition application, Troy Development Director Tim Davis went over the background for this application, which the owner first filed in September 2020 due to the costs it would take to repair the building. The demolition application was tabled a number of times, including twice for purchase agreements that later fell through due to a lack of funding that could be secured to repair the building.
Members from the public debated whether or not the state of the building was actually an imminent danger to public safety, which was one of the qualifications for demolition. Miami County’s Chief Building Official Rob England was not present during the meeting to confirm the county’s stance on the building, but Davis said the fencing is required to be up around the building due to the danger it presents to the public. The building has two orders against it, an adjudication order from the county and an order to repair from the city, for the owner to fix the building.
The community also debated whether it presented an economic hardship to the owner to repair, specifically discussing what the building was worth due to the owner purchasing the building for $485,000 in 2018. A previous sale of the building, which was a sheriff sale in 2011, was for $125,000. In 2002, the building sold for $224,000, and in 1989, the building sold for $122,500.
The cost of the repairs and renovation at one point estimated at $4.1 million in March 2021, according to the city staff report. The cost of repairs and renovation stated during Wednesday’s meeting was approximately $3.2 million. According to an estimate from Bruns General Contracting, the cost to meet the minimum building code standards would be approximately $659,788.
“This building is very historic and worthy of preservation,” said Chris Manning, of the Troy Historic Preservation Alliance and executive director of the Overfield Tavern Museum.
Jeremy Tomb, who occupies one of the adjoining buildings, was also present during Wednesday’s meeting, speaking about the impact to his building if the IOOF building is demolished.
“If this commission approves the demolition permit, they’re approving the partial, if not complete, demolition of my building,” Tomb said. He also noted Key II Security, another adjacent business.
“He hasn’t told you how it’s (the demolition) going to be done. It’s been very vague, and he’s even admitted — his engineers admitted — that the applicant, that the connection is unknown between the buildings,” Tomb said.
A report from Mark Stemmer of Tri-Tech Associates, Inc. states they were not given access to the adjacent buildings and that further investigation is required. Stemmer’s report also included remedial works for the adjoining buildings, including new supports or new exterior walls. Stemmer’s report also said the framing could be adequate as is.
“I don’t believe you have the authority to approve it as it’s submitted,” Tomb said.
Tomb also addressed the applicant’s statement of the building being an imminent danger, calling it a “stunt.”
“If there’s imminent harm, Tim Davis, where were you protecting my building, protecting me if I was underneath a building that was unsafe? You didn’t believe that. You’re saying that now to help them get their permit,” Tomb said.
The meeting grew heated at times, including when community members shouted from the audience following comments made by Mayor Robin Oda at the end of the meeting.
“I’m really biting my tongue here. I do not understand for the life of me why we are telling a privately-owned building owner what to do with his property,” Oda said. She went on to say, “The history of that building was destroyed in 1900 when the front of the courthouse was cut off, and then that false front was added … If anyone was concerned about this building, where have you been for the last 120 years?”
Oda said the inside of the building had been “cut up, chopped up,” before saying, “No one, not one person in this room has come forward during the last two years to make an offer on that building.”
The building is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are placards from the Troy Historical Society, posted to the building in 1969, which state parts of the building had been a part of Troy’s courthouses and jails.
The original structure was constructed in 1841, which housed Troy’s fourth courthouse until 1888. The back end of the original structure is still intact. There was a partial demolition of the north section of the building in 1902 that included the addition constructed to the north, east, and west of the original building. The building has a marker from the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) dating back to 1902.
The Planning Commission unanimously tabled the demolition application on Wednesday with some members of the commission requesting to have an opinion from City Law Director Grant Kerber.
It is unclear what may happen if the Planning Commission denies the demolition application, but city staff stated county officials may take the request to the Miami County Prosecutor’s Office.