Editor's Note: This article was written in response to a reader-submitted question. To submit a question to our newsroom, see Open Source.
ASHLAND -- With the recent completion of the city's Pump House clean up project, some have already turned their attention to another blighted property.
Earlier this month, an Ashland Source reader used Open Source to ask, "When are they going to tear down the Hess and Clark building?"
The answer is likely next year, according to Ashland Mayor Matt Miller, who said the question was especially timely.
"I do believe that it is entirely possible that you will not only see action at that site by the end of the year, but you will likely see that building -- if all goes as planned -- come down next year," Miller said.
Over the last month, the city of Ashland has met several times with a developer who is interested in redeveloping the 10 E. 7th Street property.
"I do believe now we’ve established a relationship with a developer, who is not only interested in helping us remove the structure, but they would help us remove the structure in exchange for being able to redevelop the site," Miller said.
The Ashland County Land Bank and Mayor Miller had been eyeing the Hess and Clark factory since at least August 2018. The city took ownership of the property from an out-of-town owner in late 2019.
Since then, many developers have toured the site, according to Miller.
"We have taken developers through that building, local investors through that building, some even who had a sincere desire to save that building or a portion of the building because of it's historical relevance to this community, and every time when they were done going through and doing their analysis, they would come back and say, there’s no way you can justify saving that building," the mayor said.
Clean up of the Hess and Clark building was one of three "major cleanup projects" that Miller identified as top priorities when he became mayor.
The first of these projects, the Pump House cleanup, was completed in late summer. Fourth Street reopened as a two-way street in August, and the former Pump House property was seeded with grass even more recently. An "urban meadow" is planned for the future.
The former Eagle Gas Station was another of Miller's priorities. The city owns the property and is awaiting a state grant to remove the underground tanks at this site.
The mayor believes cleanup of the Hess and Clark building will progress faster than cleanup of the Pump House property. The Hess and Clark building is primarily a brick and wooden structure, he said.