Long-deteriorating buildings at the Hamilton West Shopping Center were being demolished this week, with the demolition stopping at the Golden Dragon Buffet & Grill building, which will remain in operation.
The demolition of former retail-strip buildings along Brookwood Avenue came years after city officials hoped. But it also does not make way for the near-future development of new businesses that they'd also hoped for when Hamilton officials had a heated public discussion in 2018 about how the 27.3-acre property should be used.
At that time, former City Council Member Rob Wile, who had already left office and owned commercial property across Brookwood Avenue from the center, questioned the wisdom of allowing the property’s owners to build a complex of mini storage units as Phase 1 of what they said would be a five-phase project.
Wile said such a use should be allowed as a later development phase for such a significant property, and said he feared the site, which was marked by deep potholes, would remain a largely abandoned eyesore. Its buildings which had experienced break-ins and collapsing roofs.
Later phases of the project were to include Phase 2, clearing of the buildings with the collapsing roofs; Phase 3, two proposed commercial buildings with retail on the ground floor, offices on the second; and potentially condominiums on the third level; Phase 4, a drive-thru restaurant of about 4,100 square feet on 1.2 acres; and Phase 5: A full-service car wash on 0.7 acres.
City Manager Joshua Smith told Wile in an August, 2018 meeting: “I truly believe, in my heart of hearts, that if we clean this up, get the parking lot, get the entryways put back into good shape, put a couple of solid, good-looking buildings up, that this property will move incredibly quick.”
City Planning Director Liz Hayden this week said no immediate development seems to be in the future.
“I don’t have anything exciting to tell you, honestly,” she said.
Instead, “One of the requirements that we had before they opened the storage facility was that they needed to complete the demolition of the remainder of the property,” Hayden said. “So they’re demolishing it in preparation and hoping to move toward occupancy of the storage facility.”
“But we have not heard anything specific about plans for development, where the demolition would make room for something new,” she said.
On the other hand, there is a former Pizza Hut nearby that is not owned by the same people as the Hamilton West center, and city officials hope there will be an announcement about that building within a year.
Meanwhile, the Hamilton West Barber Shop, an institution of the city’s West Side more than 50 years at the time, moved in 2019 from the shopping center to a nearby former car-wash building at 186 N. Brookwood Ave.