HUDSON: The dream of turning the former Youth Development Center on Hines Hill Road into a campus for nonprofits, institutions and start-up companies will end this summer when bulldozers move in.
By approving a demolition contact Wednesday night, City Council finally slammed the door on years of trying to find a new use for the 14 buildings on the 428-acre scenic property.
Baumann Enterprises Inc. will tear down the asbestos-laden buildings for $1.4 million. Work will begin in June and should be completed in August.
At a workshop last month, Mayor William Currin said he was pleased with the effort that went into trying to save the buildings, but “now is the time to get it ready for another purpose.”
There are no immediate plans for the property once the demolition is complete.
The city purchased the property in 2009 from Cuyahoga County for $6.9 million to keep the prime land out of the hands of residential developers. The city received almost $2 million through a Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program funded through the Western Reserve Land Conservancy and $500,000 from the Metro Parks Serving Summit County.
Officials long hoped that federal funds would become available to help pay for the rest, but those attempts failed. The rest of the bill was paid out of the city’s general fund.
The red-brick buildings have stood empty since 2008, when the campus that had tended to troubled kids for a century was closed.
Nearly 300 acres of undeveloped land was handed over to Metro Parks to manage, but officials were hoping to save the buildings, which include offices, dorm-like cottages, a high school and a cafeteria.
A subcommittee of the YDC Ad Hoc Utilization Committee spent months considering 14 proposals for the various buildings and offering recommendations as to what groups should be named as tenants.
But in the end, without federal money to supplement the costs, only one proposal turned out to be “cost neutral” to the city. Other potential tenants relied heavily on the city to maintain and renovate the buildings, an expense that could have cost up to $250,000 a year. One consultant the city hired estimated initial renovation of the buildings could cost $3.2 million.
Before the demolition begins, the city will move an above-ground fuel storage tank to the municipal Ellsworth Meadows Golf Course. Some furniture and other items will be moved and made available in a community auction, to be scheduled later.
“We have already taken what we can use,” city Manager Anthony Bales said.
Lockers and other metal items will remain with the contractor because the scrap salvage value was included in Baumann’s bid.
City Engineer Thom Sheridan said Baumann intends to recycle at least two-thirds of the material from the project.
Sheridan said there were requests by law and fire agencies to use the property for training prior to demolition, but the contractor said the walls were filled with asbestos and should be left intact until removal.
At a future meeting, council expects to consider paying for the demolition with a 10-year $6.4 million bond that includes $5 million for about 16.5 miles of roadwork the city has planned for the next 11 years.
Finance Director Jeff Knoblauch said including street projects in the bond will save the city money by taking advantage of lower interest rates now. Also, he said, it is cheaper to maintain new streets than to keep patching up streets that wouldn’t be done until years down the road.
The debt service of about $600,000 would be repaid using an annual budget that is already set aside for roadwork.