TROY — For the second time, Troy City Council voted to not pursue demolition of the historic Tavern Building on West Main Street.
“You’re in a really difficult position,” Troy resident Jessica Minesinger said during council member’s regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Nov. 7. “The decision that you make on this building is really precedent-setting for downtown.”
“It’s opening Pandora’s Box,” said Minesinger, who co-owns Pop-up on West Main Street.
Council members faced a standing-room only crowd at City Hall during their meeting, and heard comments from several citizens who spoke against demolition of the historic Tavern Building.
Damaged by tornadoes in 2020, the building was scheduled for demolition until a non-profit group, the Troy Historic Preservation Alliance, filed a suit in the Miami County Court of Common Pleas. Common Pleas Court Judge Stacy M. Wall recently issued her decision in the case, which has halted the demolition for now.
Council members listened to comments from several concerned residents, then heard the second reading of a resolution to authorize the filing of an appeal against Wall’s decision. The resolution did not have enough support to proceed to a final vote.
“The issue before us today, was whether taxpayer money should be used to further this litigation on behalf of the city of Troy,” Council member Todd Severt said. “For the record, I would have voted no because I don’t think that’s a prudent use of taxpayer money.”
“I would have voted no also,” said Council member Bill Twiss.
Derek Muncy, attorney for the Tavern Building’s owner Randy Kimmel, delivered a statement during the meeting.
“As previously expressed, 116 W. Main has executed a contract with a buyer contingent on demolition,” Muncy said. “Under the current contract, a hotel will be built in its place, in compliance with historic district and riverfront overlays.”
“Demolition would provide the best win-win solution for all of downtown’s stakeholders,” he said, “not just a select, loud few.”
Two prospective buyers for the building, including the Troy-Miami County Public Library, walked away after learning how much work would be needed on the building.
“Prior to the filing of any demolition application, alternatives to demolition were explored with two prospective buyers,” Muncy said. “Both parties walked away.”
Public Service and Safety Director Patrick Titterington answered questions about why repairs have taken so long to get started.
“The tornado happened early in 2020,” Titterington said. “We began discussing options with the property owner.”
“This was not a demolition project,” he said. “The case has been decided at the common pleas level; it has been filed for notice into appeals by the property owner.”
For now, the city is not joining in any further legal action regarding the Tavern Building, and new orders to repair the structure within 30 days were also delivered to the property’s owner on Thursday, Nov. 3.
“The clock is ticking,” Titterington said. “The property maintenance orders require action or some kind of a plan within 30 days.”
“This didn’t happen to Mr. Kimmel,” Minesinger said. “He purchased a historic property, knowing it was a historic property, without contingencies that it be torn down to be rebuilt into a hotel or whatever purpose he would like.”
“He’s not a victim here; these are business decisions that he made,” she said. “The cost to re-develop this building should have been explored in his due diligence, before he closed on it.”
In other business, council members also voted to approve a resolution authorizing legal council Buckley King for services rendered in 2022, and an ordinance approving the subordination of a small business development loan to 107 West Main LLC.
“The city’s loan will be adequately secured,” Severt said. “This does not commit any additional city funds. This will allow the owner to secure additional funding from Minster Bank to fund second floor renovations.”
Council members also approved the submission of a letter of support for Shock T Petroleum, which is seeking a permit from liquor control to open a new location at 959 N. Market St., and heard updates on a new generator that was just delivered at Troy’s Fire Station 11 and the city’s participation in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Urban Canopy grant program.
“It was a 50/50 match, $25,000 funding matched against $25,000 in park funds,” Titterington said. “We did receive that.”
As a result of the grant, the city will be able to purchase approximately 30-50 trees. “It’s quite a few trees,” Titterington said.
During the council member comment portion of the meeting, several council members also spoke about the special city council meeting held on Monday, Oct. 31.
“At the special council meeting held last Monday, the council president of city council chose to make a statement at the end of the business scheduled on the agenda,” Council member Lynn Snee said. “While the council president may have disagreements with the mayor and the service and safety director, he, like any member of council, can address his questions and concerns to them personally at any point.”
“I’m not sure what purpose bringing up his opinions of their decisions and practices serves at a public meeting,” Snee said. “I would urge the council president to avoid the appearance of taking advantage of his position and ability to control council meeting agendas to further his current political campaign.”
“What concerns me about that meeting is the conduct of the council president,” Council member Bobby Phillips said. “There are any number of avenues to express personal opinions, but in this chamber, abiding by the rules is paramount.”