WOOSTER — The former Horn Nursing Home likely will be demolished and redeveloped, pending court approval of its sale, after the development arms of the city of Wooster and Wayne County put together a $360,000 bid to buy the North Market Street property on Wednesday.

After the former nursing home and seven properties that surround it failed to attract any bidders at the initial auction in January, and a subsequent reduction in the minimum bid price, the Wooster Growth Corp. and Wayne County Community Improvement Corp. teamed up to bid on the parcels at a second auction held Wednesday morning.

The groups plan to work together to seek grant money to demolish the building and prepare the site for development, Wooster Mayor Bob Breneman said after the auction. And while they are still very early in the process, Breneman said both commercial and residential development are possible for the land, which faces North Market, West Larwill and North Walnut streets.

Breneman added that he hopes groups can schedule the demolition “as soon as we can,” ideally sometime before the end of the year. After that, the Growth Corp. and Community Improvement Corp. plan to offer the entire site via a Request for Proposal “complementary to the downtown and conforming to Wooster’s Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Code and Design Standards,” according to a written statement provided by the groups.

According to the statement, the Wooster Growth Corp. will cover 60 percent of the acquisition and development costs, with the Wayne County Community Improvement Corp. providing the other 40 percent. The groups will share the net sales and profits in the same proportion.

Local attorney Bob Reynolds, a member of the Wooster Growth Corp., made the minimum $360,000 bid on behalf of the groups. There were no other registered bidders at the auction, which drew a small crowd of city officials, local business leaders and representatives of Main Street Wooster.

The property originally required a minimum bid of $646,667, two-thirds the value of the property, which had been independently appraised at $970,000. But after no one bid on the parcels in January, Wayne County Common Pleas Court Judge Corey Spitler agreed to a request from Huntington National Bank to drop the minimum opening bid to $360,000, plus a 5 percent buyer’s premium.

The bank last year foreclosed on the property once owned by Ryan Sheridan’s Sheridan Property Group and eyed as the potential site of a Braking Point Recovery Center. Sheridan was one of six people involved with Braking Point, who in February were named in a multi-count money-laundering and health-care fraud indictment in U.S. District Court. Sheridan had purchased the former nursing home and adjacent and nearby parcels on North Market, North Walnut and West Larwill streets in 2017 from Sprenger Wayne Ltd. for $1.75 million.

At the time of the foreclosure, the properties had been listed for sale for $1.9 million.

Since the first auction, water pipes in the unheated building burst, causing a flood. The Wooster Fire Department has posted signs on the building, indicating that fire personnel will not enter the building in the case of a fire, but would fight it only from outside to alleviate the risk to firefighters. City building official Tim Monea said that prior to the flooding, he considered the 20,742-square-foot building to be “in fair shape,” with a new roof and a fire alarm and sprinkler system that had just passed its yearly inspection.

The new minimum bid was based on an appraisal that showed the property had a liquidation value of $540,000, which took “into consideration the condition of the buildings, the current unfavorable (commercial) real estate market conditions and the inability” to sell the property at the January auction.

 

Staff Writer Tami Mosser contributed to this report.

Reporter Jack Rooney can be reached at 330-287-1645 or jrooney@the-daily-record.com. He is on Twitter at twitter.com/RooneyReports.