Monday, June 24, 2002

City hopes to raze store

Plaza price: $2.8 million

By Jennifer Edwards,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FAIRFIELD — City Council members are expected to approve a $2.8-million purchase tonight of a Kroger shopping plaza across from the municipal building, only to tear it down.

        The 86,000-square-foot plaza, called Fairfield Mall, will be abandoned this fall when a 77,000-square-foot Kroger opens in Village Green.

        That Kroger will be the second-largest store out of 100 in the chain's Cincinnati division, which covers Cincinnati, Dayton and Northern Kentucky. The largest store is on Mitchell Avenue in Winton Place.

        Council plans to level the old shopping plaza to ensure undesirable development does not rise there, where revitalization efforts have been under way. In recent years, Fairfield leaders have sunk more than $5 million into new projects in its new downtown, Village Green.

        “The bottom line is, are we paying a premium for this building? Yes,” Councilman Jeff Holtegel said. “But is it too high a price to pay for controlling that piece of property? No. We don't want an eyesore or a use in that building that will detract from all the investment we have made in the entire downtown. We put a lot of money there and plan on investing more.”

        At least one councilman is opposed and said the city is wasting too much money. Councilman Howard Dirksen said the building was appraised at $2.5 million, below the $2.8 million the city plans to pay. Further, he contended, after the city tears down the plaza, the land will be worth only $900,000.

        “That is $2 million lost (that) I think would be better used downtown in other ways,” Mr. Dirksen told council members at a recent meeting. “Who would pay top dollar for real estate with the intention to tear it down?”

        Mr. Dirksen also said there's no guarantee the plaza would be redeveloped any time soon because it sits on flood-prone land.

        In other business, council will hold a public hearing on whether to allow Greater Cincinnati Water Works to put a nine-acre sludge pit for lime residue next to their water plant on River Road.

        The vote is expected to be held in late July or early August.

        Dozens of neighbors are opposed because the pit would be built behind hundreds of homes. The residents have pledged to pack council chambers to urge leaders to deny the request. They also plan to submit petitions with about 500 signatures.


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