A fire that ripped through the main structure at the former Q3/JMC property in Urbana just after midnight on Sunday remains under investigation, while the city’s proposed project to redevelop the site continues.
Community Development Manager Doug Crabill said the city has yet to officially take ownership of the 605 Miami St. property, vacant since March 2008, but funding has been secured to redevelop the site. The funding, however, is contingent upon an end user committing to expansion at the site.
“The potential end user has to make a corporate decision as to what their plans are for the site, and if they decide it’s the right place for them, we can move forward with our redevelopment project,” Crabill said. “Hopefully, (the fire) is just a bump along the road that we can overcome and get the property turned around. Our goal remains to clear the site and turn a brownfield into a greenfield.”
Crabill added while the idea was tossed around to keep portions of the main building on the corner of Miami Street and Storms Avenue, the most recent plan called for all the structures located on the property to be razed.
The city has been working on the Q3/JMC Redevelopment Project since 2011 when a Phase II Environment Assessment was ordered on the approximately 20-acre property. The assessment was completed in 2013 and funded through the Clean Ohio Assistance grant from the Ohio Development Services Agency.
In June 2014, the city attempted to acquire the property through the Champaign County Board of Revisions via expedited foreclosure. Over a year later, Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi said, during a Champaign County Board of Revisions special meeting Aug. 4, that because the auditor’s valuation of the property (over $900,000) was as high as it was in relation to the taxes owed, the board could not legally perform an expedited foreclosure in which the property would be immediately transferred to the city.
Following a sheriff’s sale in September that yielded no bids on the property, the Champaign County Board of Revisions approved the city’s request to obtain the property free of taxes. The city has said all along, however, it will not accept ownership unless funding has been secured and an end user agrees to come aboard.
Fire details, road closure
According to a press release issued by the city, the Urbana Fire Division responded to the report of a structure fire at the former Q3/JMC Inc. property at 12:05 a.m. on Sunday.
Upon arrival, crews discovered fire had engulfed the rear of the structure and began working on containing the blaze to prevent it from spreading to nearby structures.
Just after 3 a.m. Sunday, the fire was determined to be contained, however, firefighters were still on the scene Monday to prevent the fire from rekindling.
“Right now, they are focusing on putting the hot spots out,” Crabill said. “It’s still smoldering, but once it stops, we will look at getting the debris cleaned up from the street. Also, we will determine if any walls need to come down from a safety standpoint.”
Until the area is deemed safe, Storms Avenue between Miami Street and Clay Street will remained closed, Crabill said.
“There are no major cleanup plans for the site scheduled at this point,” he added.
The press release states, “The fire is deemed suspicious, and the State of Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office is participating in the investigation.”
The UFD was assisted at the scene by the Mechanicsburg Fire Department and the Johnson-St. Paris Joint Fire District.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.