WELLSVILLE - Members of Wellsville Council's Property Committee met on Monday to discuss the potential fates of properties recently purchased by the village.
In addition to the former Sky Bank building at 1210 Main St. next to village hall, they include the former Mills Insurance Agency building at 454 Main St., the 458 Main St. home of JC's Wellsville Barber Shop, the Holly Development building at 460 Main St., and the former Perpetual Savings buildings at 464 Main St.
Committee member Tony Cataldo says the first priority should be conducting a survey and appraisal of the Mills property, then bid it out for offers. Diane Dinch was in full agreement regarding the former insurance building.
"I say sell the Mills Agency for sure," she said.
Cataldo also suggested listing the former Perpetual Bank buildings, but said that retaining ownership of the former Sky Bank was a better option for Wellsville. "It brings more property value to the city," he said, but allowed that leasing it in the interim might be a wise option.
In previous comments, Mayor Susan Haugh has stated that merging the Sky Bank building property with the village hall property could make for a very desirable package to offer to buyers for development, given the site's close proximity to both the railroad tracks and the Ohio River.
According to Cataldo, two businesses have already expressed interest in both the Perpetual buildings and the former Sky Bank, despite the village not yet advertising the structures yet. Though he did not name the interested parties, Cataldo expressed hopes that lucrative businesses might be drawn to the properties.
"Because you've got all this shale industry, you might get a business like Salineville got," he said.
Cataldo was referring to a pair of former Huntington Bank buildings in Salineville that were purchased in March for $600,000 by Utica East Ohio Midstream for renovation and use as administrative offices. UEO owns and operates a cryogenic natural gas processing facility in Kensington.
Committee member John Morrow concurred with Cataldo's idea of attracting business to the presently-vacant buildings as potential administrative space for gas drilling companies. "If you want Wellsville to capitalize on the shale boom that's coming through, that's how you do it, is get those offices," he said.
Morrow cited a recent trip to Columbus, where he observed formerly abandoned warehouse buildings now being utilized by companies like Chesapeake Energy for office space. "Other places are doing that, so that's what we should be doing, not tearing down," he said.
Cataldo also addressed the idea of establishing a business incubator in the Perpetual building as home for small businesses, which would pay monthly fees for the office space. Dinch emphasized that if the village follows that route, it would remain responsible for the property's upkeep and that a liability plan would need to be drawn up by village solicitor Andy Beech.
Committee members also discussed establishing a lease with JC Coulter, who continues to operate his barber shop at 458 Main. Cataldo and Dinch agreed that they want Coulter to remain in business there, though questions of a legal requirement to put the building up for bid anyway would need to be addressed to village solicitor Andy Beech.
"With government entities leasing and bidding out properties, it gets very confusing," Cataldo said.
Despite the numerous options laid out, committee members agreed to start with a survey and appraisal of the Mills building, followed by bidding it out for offers.