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Familiar Facilites May be Up for Sale

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Published on Dec 16, 2013

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio (Jeff Hirsh) -- Hamilton County may be hanging the for sale sign on some of its best known properties. The buildings Hamilton County owns and runs in downtown Cincinnati are indeed golden oldies. The average age is 99 years. Some say these buildings are oldies, but not goodies. There is the courthouse, juvenile court (which is the old Times Star building), the Alms and Doepke building which now houses Jobs and Family Services; six buildings in all. Even the justice center which houses the jail the county is studying selling them.County Administrator Christian Sigman said, It's like owning a very old car. You don't have a car payment but you know this thing is to break someday. You don't know when you're going to have a huge repair bill, and you drive around and depending on how large the repair bill is, do you get rid of the car or keep the car?There is 32 million dollars worth of deferred maintenance; repairs which need to be done but won't be through 2018 and five times that amount over the next 20 years. Consolidating in fewer buildings might save money. One big reason the county is considering selling some buildings and consolidating the space is because the county has 1700 fewer employees than it did a few years ago. They downsized and now have more space.It seems impossible the county will sell the justice center or the courthouse. But the Times Star and Alms and Doepke buildings could be attractive for developers of apartments, condos, or hotels. The county also leases space for the board of elections and may move the board, along with the coroner's crime lab, to the old Mercy Hospital in Mount Airy.Todd Portune, County Commissioner, said, There is a general impression that it's a free facility, why would you not go forward and accept that. Well nothing is free. You've got ten million dollars of renovations that need to be done.No decisions yet, just a dilemma. Cheaper to fix, or cheaper to sell? County leaders have to decide by the end of January whether to move the board of elections and the coroner's lab to the old hospital site. A decision on whether to try to sell any of the other county facilities should come by mid-2014.

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