By Gere Goble
The new owner of a former lumberyard in Bucyrus, Ohio, is seeking a tax abatement from the city as he prepares to reopen the site as a storage facility–to include large units for business trade owners to store equipment, and outdoor boat storage, some with canopies, for outdoor enthusiasts.
Bucyrus sits along the Sandusky River, approximately 60 miles southeast of Toledo and 45 miles south of Lake Erie, known for its world-class fishing, beautiful lighthouses, great bird-watching, engaging small towns and intimate islands. Bucyrus is also surrounded by nearby reservoirs, popular for fishing and boating pleasure.
James Manos, a financial adviser from Dublin, said he hopes to have Bucyrus Storage Complex LLC open in mid-March, once permits are in place. The site at 1850 Marion Road has sat empty for almost a decade, since Carter Lumber closed in late 2013.
On Jan. 19, David Zak, executive and economic development director of the Crawford Partnership for Education and Economic Development, presented a proposal for a community reinvestment area for the site to Bucyrus City Council’s economic development committee, which approved sending the plan to the full council for a vote.
Manos’ new business will offer roughly 190 storage units, about 50 of them climate-controlled, he said. It also will have 32 flex spaces, each roughly 10-by-32 feet with a 10-by-18-foot loft, for a total of 500 square feet. The spaces are used by plumbers, electricians or other tradespeople who can’t store business materials at their homes.
“We’ll have 24-hour access, surveillance, a lot of outdoor storage for boats, RVs. We plan on putting some large RV carport shelters in. Then we’ll expand off earnings, Manos said. “We’ll probably put some more buildings in eventually.”
Manos, who also hopes to offer Amazon drop-off and return services, said he owns four other storage facilities in the region. “I do this as a hobby,” he said. He also owns and has rehabbed 10 buildings in downtown Delaware.
“There’s not a ton of work, which is great. The way it’s set up is very advantageous to my vision,” he said of the Marion Road site. He’s familiar with the city because his wife is a Bucyrus native, but said the suitability of the site was the main reason he decided to open the business in town.
“Storage facilities are very difficult to build and you can’t buy them because no one will sell them,” he said. “And if you do buy them, they’re going to cost you − you’re going to have to pay up for them. … This was a great opportunity, because when I went to look at the lumberyard, it’s just set up perfectly for what I want to do. … fencing, gates, the buildings, the concrete, the dirt work − even the lighting was already done. We’re just changing fixtures. It’s just set up really well.”
One building will be a drive-thru, allowing people to drive inside and access their storage units out of the elements.
Community reinvestment designed to attract more development
In speaking to the economic development committee, Zak explained how a community reinvestment area works.
“It’s basically the state gives local government the ability to give a tax break on new property improvements,” he said. “You never give a tax break on existing revenue coming into the schools, coming into other governments, but it’s to incentivize new development, new increases on the property tax rolls that will appear on the auditor. That’s pretty much how the program is. It does commercial, it does industrial, it does residential, but it gives this council the ability to see, evaluate and approve every single one, so none of them are automatic, and it goes through a process.”
The city hasn’t been through the process of creating a community reinvestment area, Zak said.
“But as we begin to pick up, there’s interest from developers and others to potentially use this program and do more development in the city of Bucyrus, which is a very positive thing,” he said.
Storage property a test case; tax abatement efficiency will improve
His office has been working to establish a process for streamlining such requests going forward.
Leaders of the two school districts affected, Wynford Local Schools and Pioneer Career and Technology Center, support the project, Zak said.”I’m kind of pleased that we’ve been able to use this as a test case to create a process and get it so that as the next ones come in, we will be very efficient,” he said, adding Manos has been very patient throughout the process.
Zak said if he believes a project will be beneficial to a community, he generally recommends a 50% tax break for 10 years, which is what the committee approved for this project.
“If it’s particularly competitive, I might go up to 75%; I think there’s been only once or twice in my career when I’ve gone up to 100%. I like there being new revenue − it’s a benefit to everybody, everybody kind of wins. And this is acceptable to the person looking to do the project,” Zak said.
Normally on such projects, Zak said he likes to see legislation have three readings, but he asked council to approve this request as emergency legislation because of the delay caused by establishing a new process for handling such requests.
“I’m excited,” Zak said. “I think what happens is as you get more tax revenue in, as you approve more of these projects, you’re going to see more development come, and it’s going to positively affect the coffers. It’s more of a long-term investment, though. I’m excited about bringing more revenue into the city and being a part of facilitating that in partnership with you all and with the city and many other partners. It takes time, but I’m excited. … it’s one brick at a time; it’s one project at a time. You don’t build your community on homeruns and Intel dreams; you build it on good, small-, medium-sized, strong, solid companies and small projects and every improvement to the tax base.”