By Sean Rice
The property that was once home to one of Mercer County's largest businesses, Mersman Brothers furniture, soon could become a subdivision of starter homes and a senior living center.
The local company Brickyard Investments is seeking financial assistance from the Ohio Housing and Finance Authority to make the project happen. Celina City Council is considering changing the zoning of the approximately 10-acre site from manufacturing to high-density residential.
Brickyard is being assisted by Kent Bryan of Celina, a local independent consultant working for Celina to attract grants.
Bryan told city council members on Monday the planned development "would be much more compatible to the surrounding area ... Manufacturing belongs in other places in the community."
Randy Bruns, manager for Brickyard and co-owner of Rockford Construction Services, declined to comment this morning on the plans. He said there were still "some hoops to jump through" Bryan said the proposed zoning change does not include the entire site, but discussions are ongoing with two adjacent property owners, Richard Kaylor and the estate of Parker and Margaret Snyder.
Bryan also is helping Celina attract grants from numerous other sources, with the help of another local independent consultant, Ron Puthoff of Chickasaw.
Celina City Council approved four pieces of legislation Monday seeking more than $1 million in grants for parks development.
Using grants, Bryan hopes to get funding for an expansion of the Coldwater-Celina Bike Path from its current end point on Schunck Road, down an old railroad right-of-way, to Livingston Street.
Council members approved two separate Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) grant submissions totaling $900,000. Bryan said he hopes to leverage the grants against each other instead of asking Celina councilors to give matching funds.
Council also gave Bryan approval to apply for two other ODNR grants to make a trail through the newly donated woods near Westview Park and purchase property on the corner of Livingston and Mill streets for a park connected to the proposed bike path extension.
Bryan said he envisions a bike path running through the entire city to Westview Park.
Council members say they will be talking about matching funds needed for the proposed projects. Bryan has said some of the new tax increment financing (TIF) districts could help generate matching funds.
"If we don't have the money, we don't have the money," Bryan told council members Monday of the required matching funds.