NAPOLEON - A local businessman who said he did not want to see the Ohio National Guard's stately old armory torn down purchased the building yesterday for $56,000 at a public auction.
Tim Holt of Holt Investment Properties was one of seven bidders interested in the nearly 13,000-square-foot landmark, which was built in 1913. He said he intends to lease the building, most likely to a number of businesses or organizations.
"We have a church group that might look at it, a karate studio we're going to show it to," he said. "It could hold three or four different groups. There's a lot of office space in the basement area, a kitchen area, and there's office space upstairs."
Mark Wayda, director of government and public affairs for the Ohio National Guard, said Mr. Holt's bid must be approved by the state because it was less than the armory's appraised value of $70,000.
Joel Miller, executive director of the Napoleon-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, attended the auction out of concern for the old building's future and to let any buyer know he has had inquiries from organizations interested in leasing space there as well.
"We'd like to see a business in there," Mr. Miller said. "It's a beautiful old building, and it'd be nice to see someone use it to its fullest potential."
He said longtime Napoleon residents can remember attending everything from junior high dances to basketball games in the armory.
"It is a landmark," he said. "A lot of people are interested in seeing it brought back into use."
The armory on East Clinton Street has been vacant for the past few years. Across the state, the Ohio National Guard has been phasing out its outdated facilities.
It recently sold its armory in Findlay for $110,000 to a Findlay auto dealer who owns the adjacent property, and it plans to sell its former Bowling Green armory on East Wooster Street at auction this summer.
The Bowling Green armory closed last year after the National Guard worked with the city and Wood Lane to build a joint armory-community center on Newton Road.
In each case, the city and county were given the first opportunity to purchase the armories at their appraised value. All declined.
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