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Medina

Developers eye Medina Farmers Exchange for retail, restaurant, housing

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    The Medina Farmers Exchange Co. building, built in 1904, has been sold for $250,000 and developers want to add apartments, retail space and a market area.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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    The Medina Farmers Exchange Co. building, built in 1904, has been sold for $250,000 and developers want to add apartments, retail space and a market area.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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    The Medina Farmers Exchange Co. building at 320 S. Court St., Medina, is shown in 1940.

    PHOTO PROVIDED

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The Medina Farmers Exchange Co. building, built in 1904, has been sold for $250,000 and developers want to add apartments, retail space and a market area.

NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE Enlarge

MEDINA — A once-bustling haven for farmers that burned twice, fell into disrepair and eventually was condemned by city officials could serve a new grander purpose if proposed development plans come to fruition.

The historic Medina Farmers Exchange Co., 320 S. Court St., was sold Aug. 28 for $250,000, according to the Medina County Auditor’s Office. The development group Beacon Farmers Exchange LLC, headed by Charles Marshall, wants to renovate the structure, turning it into 33 residential units, a 128-seat restaurant and a 3,780-square-foot retail market on the first floor.

“It will be a catalytic project for city,” said Jonathan Mendel, community development director for Medina. “It will add a lot of vitality. All that square footage will be put into good use. It occupied an important part of cultural history for the city of Medina.”

First built in 1904, the Farmers Exchange burned down twice — first in 1905 and again in 1935 — and was rebuilt both times.

A 1935 grand reopening was a huge event for the city with thousands of people in attendance. Two orchestras played during the event and there were more than 100 floral arrangements on display. There were roses for the women, cigars for the men and balloons for the children, according to a story published in The Gazette.

The building has run into some tough times in recent years. It was condemned by the city in August 2016 because of disrepair, said Dan Gladish, chief building official.

Mendel said the building is “unfit for human inhabitation.”

That won’t prevent developers from working on the facility, he said.

There will be extensive work performed on the exterior of the primary building as part of the rehabilitation. A large accessory building on the east side of the site will be demolished and the area will become on-site parking.

The developer is seeking state and federal historic preservation tax credits to help fund the project.

Jim Duffy had owned the Farmers Exchange for more than 30 years.

“I’m happy for the city and Mr. Marshall,” he said. “Hopefully, everyone is ecstatic with the rework of the building. Hopefully, Marshall (and his investors) will carry the torch and do a better job than I could have done (in renovating the building).”

Marshall, husband of city Economic Development Commission Director Kimberly Marshall, was not available for comment.

The historic property served to welcome people to downtown Medina in years past.

It provided agricultural supplies and services to the region for decades. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in February. It was designated a local landmark by the Medina Landmarks Commission in 2012.

The building has been vacant since September 2016.

The city said renovating the building has been a strategic planning priority. Not only will it enhance the property tax base, it will create new jobs and payroll tax. There are no figures available for how many jobs it will create.

Mendel said the roof needs to be replaced, along with windows, exterior doors and the interior of the building.

The entire structure is about 50,000 square feet and has four levels, including a basement.

The Medina Planning Commission will examine site plans for the building and present developers with a certificate of appropriateness for demolition and rehabilitation at its monthly meeting Thursday at city hall.

Mendel said renovation of the building will follow the architectural character of its previous look.

The total project costs were not available.

“It’s not going to be an insignificant amount of money,” Mendel said.

“The state will make a determination on the tax credits in mid-December. That will take it into the next stage.”

He said the first stage will be to get the building secured to prevent any unwanted guests. There is mold in parts of the building, he said.

“There is a lot of potential for someone to harm themselves in there,” Mendel said.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.


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