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TWINSBURG -- The city continues to seek money for site cleanup and tear down of the Old School structure on Darrow Road, this time applying for up to $25,000 from the Summit County Land Reutilization Corporation for site clearance.
"The money would go toward asbestos [removal] and site clearing of the Old School," said Councilor Bill Furey (At-large).
City officials have put initial estimatesat between $4 million and $8 million to renovate the city-owned, 40,000-square-foot structure at 8997 Darrow Road.
The city has also applied for a $200,000 Brownfield grant to assist with asbestos removal at the building, estimated at $250,000. City officials have said the asbestos requires removal whether the structure stands or is torn down.
Twinsburg Director of Planning and Community Development Larry Finch said May 24 that the city hopes to receive word on the Brownfield grant before the end of the month.
Council voted unanimously in March to obtain demolition estimates for the structure, which came back at between $500,000 and $1 million, Furey said.
He said the city could offset these costs by selling the property, which has been appraised at between $1.2 and $1.4 million. If the building were to be demolished, the property could be sold to a developer as part of the city's longer-term downtown redevelopment plans.
The city is eyeing the 16 acres on which the Old School sits -- and a wider 24-acre area around Twinsburg Township Square and the Town Center Plaza area -- for its downtown redevelopment plans, which include redesigned, pedestrian-friendly walkways, mixed-use zoning and architecture with a "uniquely Twinsburg" aesthetic.
A grassroots group known as the Committee to Save the Old School has been vocal in its defense of keeping the Old School, arguing that the facility represents a specific and unique heritage in Twinsburg, sitting on the site of the city's first centralized school and becoming, over the years, an iconic structure in the city. The structure has never had any type of official historic designation.
The Old School was constructed in 1921. The building was expanded in 1952 and closed as a public school building in 1992.
Before Daimler Chrysler (in conjunction with Kent State University) opened the United Auto Workers Training Center in 1995, some minor fixes were made to the facility. The building also served as Kent State University's Geauga Campus until 2012. The structure has remained unoccupied since.
City looks into demolishing house at Rt. 91, Post Road
Council also unanimously agreed to look into the possibility of razing a city-owned house/structure at the corner of Rt. 91 and Post Road.
Furey said he wanted to see how much it would cost and what obstacles are in the way of tearing it down.
The house "has fallen into ill repair" and has black mold problems, Furey said. Currently, the city uses a detached garage at the structure for storage. Furey said he would like to create a trail head for the Hickory Trail, should the city approve of tearing it down.