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Published: Wednesday, 2/6/2008

Developers have plans for N. Main properties in Sylvania


There's always been something that stuck out, and not very attractively, about a building in the 5700 block of Sylvania's North Main Street.

Amid a strip of primarily older, attractive houses - some given over to businesses and other purposes - the 5739 North Main building that recently housed the Sylvania Herald's offices and a carryout has been strictly commercial, with simple, functional architecture that adds nothing to the street.

That's soon to change, and likely in a way that will visually pull the block together.

The city of Sylvania has sold it and a nondescript house to its north to Harmon Capital, an investment firm, for $575,000.

Harmon is interested in either razing it and designing a new building for the site, or radically remodeling what's there now to fit with its neighbors.

Steve Carroll, a Sylvania architect working on the project, said the new owners have also said they would like the site to also lead people to more easily to see the Sylvania Historical Village, which the commercial building partially obscures.

Mr. Carroll said the site's redevelopment is in an early stage, and the two existing buildings' structural viability must first be determined.

The buyers have agreed with the city to accommodate school buses that bring classes to the historical village, he said.

Joy Armstrong, director of the village, said she had not yet been involved in any direct discussions concerning the project, but was pleased with plans as they have generally been relayed to her.

She noted that the improvement to Main Street is welcome and that the desire to work in harmony with the village is also good news.

Mayor Craig Stough said he was pleased at the prospect of a new, more attractive building in the block, and added that the property's commercial use also will be a city asset.

The existing buildings' preservation will depend on their viability and on how they are situated on the land in relation to more advanced planning for what the purchasers hope to achieve, Mr. Carroll said.

The conceptual stage of any project is enjoyable, he said, but some things could change once practical aspects are evaluated.

A spokesman for Harmon Capital, LLC, said the investment firm's partners were drawn to Main Street's "hometown" feel and what they see as the area's unlimited future.

The group also said they appreciated Sylvania's strong sense of community.

Keith Haddad, president of city council, said he, too, thought the proposal was a positive for the community.

He added that he will likely propose that some of the funds which will come with the purchase of the property be used to construct a barn at the historical village for its railroad cars.

Although not a high priority, that project is on a list of capital improvements the city is considering.

The city also had estimated a potential cost of about $75,000 for renovations and roof repair to the old commercial structure, which will now be unnecessary.

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