City working to sell Armory

By Jane Beathard

February 24, 2014

London City Council is mulling at least two sale offers for The Armory building at 15 E. Second St.

Previous efforts to sell the 84-year-old brick structure for at least $50,000 failed. But new buyers approached city leaders in recent months, prompting council members to appoint Madison County Future, Inc. to handle a sale.

Joe Mullins of AE Real Estate Holdings, on South Main Street in London, offered $57,000 for the building to create a home for programs sponsored by Crossroads Church. Those programs will include a latch-key, library and youth sports. All will be available to the public, Mullins told council on Thursday.

Henry Comer, owner of Mandy’s ABC Day Care at 55 S. Oak St., confirmed he is the other potential buyer. Comer plans to move his child care business to the facility.

Comer would not disclose the amount of his bid, but said he began negotiating with the city in November and believed he was the only interested buyer.

But council members didn’t jump to seal either deal on Feb. 20. An ordinance sponsored by Rex Castle to accept an offer remained on first reading. Discussion will continue at the March 6 meeting.

Complex issues surround any sale since much of the funding to purchase and improve The Armory was purchased using grant money.

The city aimed to create a youth recreation center when it purchased the building from the military in 1998 for $138,500.

A state NatureWorks grant administered through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), supplied $14,580 of the purchase price, agency records showed.

At least $40,000 in subsequent grants from other state agencies over the years helped with repairs and improvements, according to city auditor Katie Hensel.

Law director Zahid Siddiqi is researching stipulations associated with those grants, including any repayment the city faces if the building sells, Hensel said.

The NatureWorks grant administrator said any sale to a private company or individual requires ODNR approval. Otherwise, the city must obtain an appraisal and “replace” the building’s current value with a recreational facility or parkland of equal value.

Madison County Auditor’s records set current market value of The Armory at $323,730.

Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.