NEW PARIS — The New Paris Chamber of Commerce is seeking to take control of a vacant property at 101 S. Washington St. so the structure can be torn down.
The dilapidated, two-story building holds four apartments as well as street-level retail space, and shares an intersection with the New Paris Antique Mall.
Antique mall owner Keith Kelley said, “No one’s lived there in a couple years. I’ve been here eight years. Recently, there was a computer guy in the retail space for a couple months, and then he was gone. In eight years, that’s all that’s been in there.”
Kelley and his wife, Linda, who serves as legal advisor to the Chamber, have been researching the property in an effort to inform the village council of the necessary steps to take control. Kelley said that the property is behind by about $20,000 in federal taxes and about $11,500 in county taxes. The building, he said, is in “an irreparable state,” and is infested with rats. Mold and foundation concerns may also be an issue, he said.
“My wife is a paralegal,” said Kelley, “so she’s been talking to the lenders, because there are several mortgages on it. One is at Greenville National Bank, and she talked with their president and attorney. It’s coming up for foreclosure, so she’s working with them and the county tax people and auditor to see if some of those taxes can be forgiven. It’s a legal spaghetti.”
The Chamber, said president Dale Hall, would like to remove the building and replace it with a parking lot, grass lot, or gazebo.
Property records list the owner as David Protzman, who is also shown to own multiple properties in Lewisburg, Eaton, Greenville, West Manchester, Arcanum, Greenville, and Lexington, Kentucky.
Kelley said that several of these properties are all entering foreclosure status. “He hasn’t paid taxes on any of them,” he said. “The others might be able to sell at auction because they’re not as upside down as this one is, and they’re private dwellings, where this is retail with apartments.”
Protzman could not be reached for comment.
Hall and the Kelleys presented their findings and goals to Mayor Rick Van Winkle and village council earlier this month, and council gave its blessing to continue the process. “But,” said Van Winkle, “I can’t make any promises as to what or how the village will be able to contribute.”
No matter what, said Kelley, the process will take time and money.
“We’ve got prices on what it would cost to get it [demolished],” he said, “and even if we got it for free, we’d have to pay $35 – 40,000 to have it taken down and hauled away. If anything happens, it’ll probably be years. It’ll be a while.”
Reach Duante Beddingfield at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @DuanteB_RH.