Last week, Greater Ohio was in Mansfield, Ohio, participating in the 2nd Properties Conference, hosted by Downtown Mansfield, Inc. and Preservation Ohio. The purpose of the half-day conference was to learn of the severity of the vacant and abandoned properties crisis in the area and to begin identifying solutions that will help head-off the next round of problem properties that are expected to hit the market in the next 6-18 months. Greater Ohio joined the Cleveland Federal Reserve and Preservation Ohio in discussing state wide initiatives underway that could help cities like Mansfield. Over 50 people attended, from 6 counties, and the topic of a county land bank came up frequently as one important tool for stabilizing neighborhoods. Jim Rokakis of the Thriving Communities Institute keynoted the event and discussed ways a county land bank could assist the city of Mansfield and other cities in Richland County in stemming the effects of vacant and abandoned properties.
One of the most fascinating components of the Conference was a Tour of Unique Properties in Downtown Mansfield. The walking tour took participants into an old car dealership that had been renovated to be used as office space, the 2nd floor of a historic building in Mansfield’s Carrousel District that is just ripe for condos or a beautiful restaurant.
The most amazing property on the tour was the 11th and 12th floors of Mansfield’s tallest skyscraper—the Chase Building. Originally, the 11th floor served as the executive office suite (it includes a kitchen and library) and the 12th floor as a modest ballroom with funky light fixtures from the 1960s. These two floors are being remodeled to become a penthouse condo. The Properties Conference tour was a preview to an event in May that Preservation Ohio and Downtown Mansfield, Inc. will be holding in Mansfield’s central business district: “Forbidden City Tour;” a tour that will give a “unique look at several properties that have not been seen by the general public in decades!” What an innovative idea to tour closed up buildings and visualize the potential they have for the 21st Century!
Greater Ohio had a great time learning about efforts underway in North Central Ohio and wishes Richland County the best of luck as it continues to work towards a county land bank.