Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007
By Timothy Cox
Contract awarded to bring down former Mersman building
  One of Celina's oldest industrial sites finally will be cleared for redevelopment.
Celina City Council members meeting in special session Monday awarded a demolition contract to CRS Demolition, Louisville, Ky., to raze most of the 12-acre former Mersman Furniture Co. complex.
Only the northwestern-most section of the building will be salvaged for future renovation and redevelopment. The entire property is owned by Brickyard Investments Ltd.
Even though the sprawling buildings, smokestack and other structures on the site will be torn down in the coming months, it might be two years or so before the site is completely cleared. City officials compromised their original desire for a quick and tidy clearing of the site so the project could be done with the state grant money earmarked for the project.
The Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) awarded the city $750,000 for the project. About $725,000 of that money remains available after engineering and bidding costs. Three rounds of bidding were necessary to bring the project within the available money.
CRS was the low bidder all three times and will be paid $715,000 for the work.
To achieve that, city officials dropped demands that brick and concrete debris be crushed on-site and hauled away. Instead, the contractor is required to "reasonably organize" debris piles on the site.
City officials plan to salvage some of the concrete material to use for an eventual breakwater structure on Grand Lake to protect the Celina Rotary Walkway, which is now under construction.
Some council members expressed concerns about the two-year timeline and about whether the city could secure state approval for a breakwater structure within that time frame.
The oldest part of the complex opened in 1900. The factory was used for woodworking throughout most of the 20th century, closing for good in the mid-1990s.
An ODOD document attached to the city legislation says Brickyard officials are working to bring 15 to 50 new full-time jobs to the redeveloped site and bring back the 15 jobs that were previously there when SOURCES occupied a portion of the complex.
Brickyard officials already have signed a partnership agreement with the city that spells out the company's obligations to pursue redevelopment of the site.
A prior plan to clear and redevelop the Mersman site into a neighborhood of small starter homes and duplexes was rejected when city officials failed to offer support for the proposal a couple of years ago.
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