PIQUA — The city of Piqua held a community notification meeting Friday afternoon to inform residents about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfield Cleanup Grant for which the city is applying. The city hopes to use this grant in order to perform an asbestos abatement at the old Mo’s Lounge and South Sea Restaurant, which is the vacant building located at 111 S. Main St.
“This is federal funding that’s available to clean up brownfield sites,” Development Program Manager Nikki Reese said.
The EPA defines a brownfield as “a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”
The maximum funding that an applicant can receive from this grant is $200,000.
“The city must provide a minimum of a 20 percent match,” Reese said, which the city has obtained.
Both a Phase I and Phase II Environmental Assessment has been done on the site. According to the preliminary evaluation of the property, the studies found “significant quantities of asbestos-containing materials … including window caulking, acoustical plaster, various adhesives and mastics, firebrick, pipe and electrical insulation, boiler gaskets and firebrick, fire doors, and electrical components.”
Mo’s Lounge covers approximately 0.1 acres and contains a 9,200 square foot, two-story structure. The property also includes a basement. According to Reese, former uses of the building include bottling, retail sales, a former furniture shop, a contractor trade office, a restaurant, a bus stop, a Moose Lodge from approximately 1960 to 1975, and Mo’s Lounge from 1980 to 2003.
“And since then it’s been vacant,” Reese said. The city purchased the building in April 2014 from Joseph E. Drapp for $46,600, according to public records.
“It’s a unique property,” Reese said. “It abuts right up to the river. It has awesome views right over the Great Miami River … There’s definitely some huge economic redevelopment opportunities for this particular building.”
Mo’s Lounge was recognized as a target area for the Downtown Riverfront Redevelopment Strategy with the goal being for a private developer to invest in the property and renovate it. The recommended strategy for this property would be to target a river recreation outfitter as a lower level tenant and a casual food and drink establishment as the first floor operation with the second floor being available as an event or entertainment space, according to Reese.
The cost to perform an asbestos abatement for the property would be approximately $268,700.
“If we can do that, it’s going to make this property a more favorable property for a developer,” Reese said.
Other alternatives for the building include leaving it as is and let it continue to deteriorate or demolishing the building all together.
“It’s still a sturdy building,” Reese said.
According to Economic Development Director Justin Sommer, engineers have looked at the building and none of them had concerns about its structure. Sommer commented that the building “has good bones” and that there is currently interest from developers in regard to it.
The application for this grant is due by Dec. 18. The city expects to find out if they have received the grant by late spring or early summer. If the city is awarded this grant, the project can begin as early as fall 2016.
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall