ASHLAND -- Ashland City Council approved a tax abatement Tuesday that clears the way for a new $6.2 million, 50,000-square foot, senior-assisted living residence at the former Hospice of North Central Ohio site.
The Inn at Ashland Woods Limited has purchased the 29,626-square foot building at 1050 Dauch Drive and will add 21,000 square feet that will eventually offer room for 85 residents, much of the space dedicated to patients in need of memory-care assistance.
The site will be developed by a Newark, Ohio-based company owned by Jerry McClain, who has developed similar sites in more than 20 communities, including The Inn At SharonBrooke, which opened in 1987.
Council approved a 10-year, 50-percent property tax abatement for the "single-story, rustic style" facility, which will create 25 new full-time permanent positions and 30 part-time permanent positions.
Mayor Matt Miller told City Council members the former hospice site had been tax exempt in the past and that the new for-profit business will pay property taxes and also generate $1,017,500 in annual payroll.
Miller said he and economic development officials were impressed after meeting with McClain and his entire team.
"What a class act this group is. These are folks that I am convinced are not only going to do business in our community ... they will be a partner in our community as we move forward. They have a heck of a track record around the state where they have facilities," Miller said.
The mayor said it's the first time McClain and his company have chosen to remodel and expand an existing facility.
"When they came to us, they were inquiring about a vacant piece of land they were interested in to build a new facility. The longer they talked and the more photos they showed of the quality of their buildings, i have to admit the hospice facility came to mind," Miller said.
The purchase of the property recently closed and the project will be done in two phases, city officials said.
In other action on Tuesday, City Council:
-- approved an amended tax abatement for Jerden Real Estate, Ltd. (Aber's Towing & Crane Service, Inc.). The abatement remains 50 percent for 10 years, but has been amended to begin in January 2019, rather than January 2018. The construction project at 1325 Commerce Drive was delayed from its original start date, Miller said, and the amended abatement allows the company to experience the full 10-year abatement.
-- approved a new, three-year contract with city employees represented by Ohio Council 8-AFSCME, with raises of 2.5 percent in 2019, 3 percent in 2020 and 2.5 percent in 2021. The contract allows lower-paid workers who make less than $20 per hour to choose a 50-cent per hour raise, rather than a percentage increase, Miller said. New three-year deals were recently negotiated with the city's police officers and firefighters with the same percentage increases, Miller said.
-- approved a change in city ordinances that will allow apartment buildings to be constructed in areas zoned M-4. Miller said developers have expressed an interest in creating additional housing, especially in the U.S. 250 corridor. Hotels could already be built in those areas.
-- approved a resolution that authorizes Ashland Public Transit to apply for federal and state grants that provides the majority of the funding for the city-operated service. The deadline to file for the grants is Aug. 14.
-- heard Miller say the city has been "fully funded" through the Ohio Department of Transportation for a $2 million roundabout to improve the safety at the intersection of Cottage Street, Faultless Drive and the U.S. 250 bypass.
A roundabout is a type of circular intersection or junction in which road traffic is permitted to flow in one direction around a central island, and priority is typically given to traffic already in the junction.
Miller said discussions about how to improve the intersection have been ongoing for a year. He said traffic studies have been done and the site does not qualify under ODOT rules for a traffic signal. Ashland applied for funding for a roundabout and Miller said he recently learned it had been approved.
The mayor stressed no decision had been made and there would be public hearings and discussions before any final roundabout decision is made.
"At least now we have the resources to take a serious look at it," Miller said.