PIQUA — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the 172 communities and organizations across the country who are receiving the EPA Brownfields Fund. The city of Piqua is among the eight communities in Ohio to receive the Brownfields Cleanup Grant. The fund is designed to help local governments redevelop vacant and unused properties, transforming communities and local economies.
The EPA defines a brownfield as “a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.” The city of Piqua was selected to receive a $200,000 Brownfields Cleanup Grant to remove asbestos and lead-based paint from the former Mo’s Lounge building, located at 111 S. Main St., which the city identified as a catalytic redevelopment site in the Riverfront District Development Strategy.
The city is receiving is the maximum amount of a funding an applicant for the Brownfields Cleanup Grant can receive, and the city must provide a 20 percent match. The grant funding will be used to abate $268,700 worth of asbestos, making the property more viable for a developer to redevelop.
“It simply does not make business sense for a potential developer or tenant to bear the burden of environment cleanup on blighted properties,” Economic Development Director Justin Sommer stated.
“Without programs like the Brownfields Cleanup Grant, these contaminated structures would continue to sit empty. The city of Piqua is grateful for the assistance from the U.S. EPA to ready the 111 S. Main building for redevelopment. We are excited to bring this building back to life, putting it into productive use for our downtown and riverfront,”
The former Mo’s Lounge covers approximately 0.1 acres next to the Great Miami River and contains a 9,200-square-foot, two-story structure. Former uses of the building include bottling, retail sales, a former furniture shop, a contractor trade office, a restaurant, a bus stop, a Moose Lodge from approximately 1960 to 1975, and Mo’s Lounge from 1980 to 2003.
Since 2003, it has been a vacant building. The city purchased the building in April 2014 from Joseph E. Drapp for $46,600, according to public records.
Phase I and Phase II Environmental Assessments have been done on the site. According to the preliminary evaluation of the property, the studies found “significant quantities of asbestos-containing materials … including window caulking, acoustical plaster, various adhesives and mastics, firebrick, pipe and electrical insulation, boiler gaskets and firebrick, fire doors, and electrical components.”
Cleaning up brownfield sites near residential properties can increase the value of those properties between five and 15 percent. According to a study analyzing data from 48 brownfields sites, an estimated range of $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for those local governments in a single year after cleanup.
“The EPA is committed to working with communities to redevelop brownfield sites which have plagued their neighborhoods. EPA’s Assessment and Cleanup grants target communities that are economically disadvantaged and include places where environmental cleanup and new jobs are most needed,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said.
“These grants leverage considerable infrastructure and other investments, improving local economies and creating an environment where jobs can grow. I am very pleased the president’s budget recognizes the importance of these grants by providing continued funding for this important program.”
Development Program Manager Nikki Reese stated, “The former Mo’s Lounge is a unique structure that the city of Piqua does not want to demolish since it is the only known structure that opens up to the Great Miami River Recreational Trail. If this structure is torn down, it could not be reconstructed with the direct access to the bike trail due to new construction restrictions along the levee.”
The former Mo’s Lounge is adjacent to the Great Miami River Recreational Trail that connects 330 miles of paved interconnected trails, linking communities throughout the Dayton and Cincinnati regions. This property has the advantage of a full walk-out basement that is level at grade with the river trail and a first floor facing South Main Street.
The city of Piqua is excited to see how the cleanup and revitalization of this property will enhance the quality of life provided in the Piqua community.
“This is another successful step in our Economic Development Strategy to redevelop and promote our downtown and riverfront,” City Manager Gary Huff said. “Bringing commerce back to some of our historical and significant structures along Main Street and the Great Miami River will help the entire vitality of the city.”
Reporter Sam Wildow contributed to this story.