PDT Staff Writer
If all specifications line up, the Portsmouth City Building Committee is recommending the city tear down the Marting’s building for the erection of a new Municipal building and demolishing another building currently owned by the city to build a Justice Center.
At Monday’s Portsmouth City Council meeting Second Ward Councilman and chairman of the committee Rich Saddler handed out the committee’s proposal, and it began with this premise: “To construct a new city Municipal building and city Justice Center on existing city owned property, and only if the existing property is able to accommodate such buildings and parking spaces of this size in accordance with the city of Portsmouth and the state of Ohio building codes.”
The committee specifically recommends the site to be considered for a Municipal building is that of the current Marting’s building. It calls for the city to raze the existing building on the southwest corner of Sixth Street and Chillicothe Street (former Marting’s building) and request the Marting’s Foundation pay for the razing of the building. The proposal also calls for the demolition of the building directly west of that location on the south side of Sixth Street (former Babcock building) for parking. It goes on to recommend the razing of the former Adelphia building at the corner of Ninth Street and Washington Street and using that property to construct a city Justice Center.
“These buildings shall not exceed a total of 75,000 square feet in design and with a proposed construction cost of $200 per square foot,” the report says. “The breakdown is as follows: a total of 35,000 square feet for the city Justice Center and a total of 40,000 square feet for the city Municipal building. Employee and public parking would be in addition to the square footage of these building designs. This would be subject to a revision of the TSHD (Tanner Stone Holsinger & Donges) reports dated May 6, 2008 - Justice Center, and Feb. 7, 2008 - Marting’s site and the July 19, 1999 space requirement study.”
The report further calls for the creation of a listing of all existing property owned by the city of Portsmouth with the exception of city owned property that is used for right of way purposes, public park areas, municipal parking lots, three fire stations, service department buildings, water treatment plants and facilities and waste water treatment facilities. And it calls for all remaining city owned properties to be sold absolutely at auction.
“The city of Portsmouth shall advertise all property to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. All monies acquired by the selling of these properties shall go toward the construction cost of this project,” the recommendation says. “The Marting’s Foundation shall be contacted to request funding to raze the current structure (Marting’s building). This proposal would be contingent upon the Marting’s Foundation agreeing to raze the former Marting’s building, repair the side of the adjacent building and sealing off and repairing the rear of the existing Marting’s building annex.”
The report calls for the proposal to be submitted to the public for their vote by adding the proposal to the May, 2013 primary election ballot as requested by the mayor and City Council president.
The report is signed by Saddler, Sharon Bender, Sean Boldman and Kenneth Carlson, the city building committee.
The city of Portsmouth purchased the Marting’s building in 2002, setting off a firestorm of opposition by members of the community — since then it has been a political football with several members of City Council calling for it to be torn down over the last several years, taking the use of that building out of play when locations for a Municipal building are being considered.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at email@example.com