By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
A deal that would put Portsmouth city operations into the current Fifth-Third Bank building on the Esplanade in downtown Portsmouth is still possible, according to Portsmouth developer Jeff Albrecht.
Albrecht said one of the proposals on the table is assembling a group of investors to purchase the building, with Fifth-Third remaining in part of the first floor and paying rent. The owners/investors would then lease the remainder of the building to the city.
“So the building would have value,” Albrecht said. “So you pay them based on the value of that lease, and you turn around and rent the rest of the building to the city. Included in the rent is maintaining the HVAC and the roof repairs and maintenance. That way the city doesn’t come up with any cash.”
Step two, Albrecht said, would be that the Marting’s Foundation would then tear down the Marting’s building, which the city owns, and build a large public parking lot on that property.
“Fifth-Third likes the idea of having a big parking lot across the street from them,” Albrecht said.
Step three would be selling the existing city building property on Second Street to a private developer.
“They would sell it for whatever they can get for it at an auction,” Albrecht said. “Whoever wants to buy it can buy it.”
Albrecht stressed that while area business leaders are working to try to make the plan become a reality, it is important to him and the others involved that they keep the public informed and in the loop during every step of the process.
Albrecht also commented on another aspect of his recent meeting with Gov. John Kasich.
“He wants to help us by coming up with three or four 70-, 80-, 100-people companies, and bring them down here, and do something quick,” Albrecht said. “Shawnee State (University) is getting this marvelous deed to the Internet super-highway. There’s a lot of software companies; there’s insurance companies; there’s banks; there’s people that use the Internet, that would like to have sites to tap into this Internet. So what happens if we tear down the city building and build a nice new building on that property, and put in three or four floors of office space and tie into that Internet? The governor would then call up, say, a software company and tell them, ‘we have a university where we can train your people, and we’ve got a hundred gigabyte Internet, and we’ve got office space that is probably 30 percent cheaper than what it is where you are.’”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.