MANSFIELD — The Richland County Land Bank board on Wednesday approved spending $10,200 to give potential developers a greater insight into the soil under the former Ocie Hill Neighborhood Center.

The board voted to hire the Mannik Smith Group from Toledo to do a geotechnical investigation and a phase one environmental assessment to determine the condition of the ground at the 3.2-acre site at 445 Bowman St.

Demolition of the century-old building on the city’s north side was completed earlier this year and Land Bank Manager Amy Hamrick said the organization already has developers interested in building multi-story mixed use or residential housing. 

The geotechnical investigation will include one day of drilling on the site at various sites and depths at a cost of about $7,500.

This work gives a potential developer a basic idea of what to expect at the site and what type of foundation system or potential soil improvements may be required for the associated development plan, according to Mannik Smith.

Once a detailed site plan is complete, the company said, it usually overlays that with its boring plans and determines where additional borings/information may be needed.

The preliminary geo-tech is finalized once those additional borings are done.

Mannik Smith told Hamrick that phase one environmental  assessments are not needed for every commercial real estate transaction, but they “are most needed when a lending institution is involved.” 

The company estimated the cost for this effort at the former Ocie Hill site will be around $2,700.

“This is three acres and ultimately we would like to have a really great project go there,” board member Jeff Parton said. “If we eliminate (concerns) at today’s prices, it just make a lot of since.”

Hamrick said the cost of the work could be added to the price of the land when it’s sold to a developer.

Board chair Bart Hamilton agreed.

“I think that would be something we would probably want to consider when we did transfer the site to somebody and say, ‘Hey, we got this much money in it.’ 

“They would’ve had to put that (money) in anyway,” Hamilton said. “Once you have that engineering done, it’s going to make it easier to know what (a developer) can and can’t do.

“I think it’s money well spent,” he said.

Land Bank board members also went over results of a recent survey done with community members about potential uses of the site.

Ocie Hill poll

The “Ocie Hill Redevelopment Survey” said it’s the Land Bank’s mission to “make a positive, sustainable impact on our community by strategically acquiring vacant and abandoned properties, reducing blight, and returning them to productive use, improving the quality of life for county residents.”

Those taking the survey were asked to select possible site redevelopments from the following possibilities: senior housing, low-income housing, market-rate housing, city park, veteran housing, divided into single-family homes, grocery store, community garden or other.

Responses to the survey, which began in April, had to be submitted by June 1.

There were 105 responses and the top three choices were senior housing (selected on 54 of the responses), low-income housing (38 selections) and a grocery store (35 responses).

Of those responding, 68 percent were over age 50 and 70 percent were female. According to the survey results, 36 percent of the respondents said they lived on the north end and 43 percent lived elsewhere in the city.

“I think this kind of gives us an idea of what directions we’d like to go in looking for developers, looking for proposals … however we decide to proceed with this request-for-proposal type thing,” Hamrick said.

Chuck Hahn, Cleveland Financial Group, invests in this independent reporting through a Newsroom Partnership. Learn more about Newsroom Partnerships.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when...

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