Grant can help fund project at the former Remington Rand

MARIETTA – Today, it’s a massive building with broken windows.

But the owners of the former Remington Rand-Kardex industrial site at 910 Greene St. one day hope to turn the facility into a residential complex with a pool, tennis courts and a coffee shop.

Thanks to a $200,000 state grant, the 13.5-acre site in the middle of the Norwood district will move a step closer to becoming what the property owners hope will be an upscale residential and commercial development.

The money from the Ohio Developmental Service Agency’s Clean Ohio Assistance Fund will be used to determine the suitability of the property for future development.

“This opens the door for an environmental study to determine whether there are any issues that have to be addressed as the property was an industrial site for the better part of a century,” said John Walsh, senior vice president for corporate development with Promanco property management and real estate development company.

Promanco manages the Greene Street property for the owner, Two Rivers Development Ltd.

Walsh said an application for the funding assistance was submitted earlier this year with assistance from the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority. The proposal also received the blessing of Marietta’s City Council members who passed a resolution of support for the grant application in May.

The funding allows testing to determine the property’s condition and what work, if any, needs to be done before development can occur, Stephanie Gostomski, communications officer for the service agency, said.

“The project, once completed, will be used as an all-inclusive residential community,” she said. “On-site services such as dry cleaning, coffee shops, exercise facilities, swimming pool, tennis courts and concierge services would be available to residents and the surrounding neighborhood.”

Walsh said that’s the ultimate proposal for the site, but a lot of work will have to be done to reach that stage, and a lot hinges on what the environmental study reveals.

“Our proposal looked at converting the facilities into residential living space – town homes and apartments – with a variety of retail and commercial services available on-site,” he said, adding that those amenities would also be available to the entire community.

But Walsh said development plans are preliminary at this point.

“We need to learn much more about the site first,” he said. “This is all very notional until we get through this environmental study.”

The property consists of several buildings – the oldest estimated to have been constructed around 1914 – as well as open space that includes yards used for equipment storage. The front portion of the facilities, facing Greene Street, includes a large multi-story brick complex that surrounds a huge stone structure fronted with several columns that locals call the “bank building.”

Two Rivers Development has owned the property for about 16 years, Walsh said. The buildings have been used for storage.

Equipment is stored there now, but a large portion of the brick complex is being used as a warehouse for sand used in the hydraulic shale fracturing process by oil and gas companies.

Jeff Starner, co-owner of Two Rivers Development with local businessman John Lehman, said the bank building has an auditorium in the back that was used to demonstrate the durability of safes for storing valuables, which was a product manufactured at the former Remington Rand plant.

“The original Underwriter’s Laboratory standards for those products were established there,” he said. “The property does have quite a history.”

Walsh said the idea would be to preserve as much of the original property as possible if development proceeds as envisioned.

“We think it would be ideal for the Norwood community,” he said.

Eric Oiler, owner of the Norwood Antique Mall across the street from the industrial complex, said people who stop in his shop often ask about the bank building.

“Some folks from the Pittsburgh area were here recently and took several photos of the building,” he said.

Oiler said he supports upgrading the property, but would like to see the bank building saved and incorporated into any development there.

“That property covers a large piece of Norwood,” he said. “And I’m glad they’re looking to redevelop it.”

Starner said the main reason behind Two Rivers Development’s purchase of the property has always been a focus on upgrading the area.

“Our goal has been that this property would become an asset for the Marietta community,” he said.

Walsh said the next step will be to contract with an independent agency to do the environmental study and determine if the property needs more attention for development plans to proceed. He hopes that process can be completed in 2014.