TROTWOOD, Ohio (WDTN) – City officials have rezoned the former Hara Arena property to allow for light industrial opportunities.
According to officials, the new zoning, which was requested by the property owner, makes the site eligible for more financial assistance for tornado cleanup and opens doors for more businesses to move in.
Twisted metal and torn wires still hang from the former Hara Arena more than nine months after it was damaged in the Memorial Day tornadoes.
“It’s definitely an eyesore,” said Coya Mobley, who lives nearby. “They should have torn it down a long time ago.”
According to Chad Downing, executive director of the Trotwood Community Improvement Corp., the property’s previous recreational zoning prevented the property from qualifying for some federal and state aid to help cover tornado cleanup.
Now, under planned unit development (PUD) zoning, the property owner, Mike Heitz of Tax Redevelopment LLC, can obtain that funding, and different uses of the site are allowed in the future, Downing said.
“Things like light manufacturing, office space, health care, university district,” said Downing, adding that storage units and heavy manufacturing are among the types of businesses that are not allowed.
The new zoning makes the site more marketable to businesses, he said.
“What we would really like to see is a company that can come in and create a substantial amount of jobs that are living wage, that are both available to residents of Trotwood and the greater region,” Downing said.
Significant cleanup work on the site is expected to start within the next month, Downing said.
According to Heitz, who spoke with 2 NEWS Thursday, crews have already started trimming trees and picking up trash around the property, and that work will ramp up over the next few weeks.
Demolition to parts of the building could begin in the next 60 to 90 days, Heitz said, adding that crews will determine how much of the structure can be saved.
Heitz told 2 NEWS he has applied for a $2 million loan from the Small Business Administration, and the site can qualify for grants and loans from JobsOhio.
The 130-acre property will be up for sale or lease once cleanup is complete, Heitz said, adding his firm will now start to market the building to other companies.
Some neighbors told 2 NEWS they believe their area needs a grocery store most but are still relieved to hear some type of change is planned.
“I’m glad that they’re going to do something with it,” said Nona Rutledge, who lives near the site. “I know everyone can’t have their wishes, but I’m glad they’re going to do something with it.”
About a third of the land on the Hara site is in Harrison Township, Downing said. Heitz told 2 NEWS he plans to apply for rezoning on that part of the property as well.
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