Middletown sells properties for cheap to get new business investment

Posted at 12:16 PM, Jul 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-10 12:16:30-04

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- Just how far can you stretch a dollar? In this city, you could buy a building.

After he founded Liberty Spirits Distillery, Mark Robinette said he quickly realized the business need more room.

He decided to buy a new place for $1.

"If you had seen the building when we acquired it, there were holes in the roof, mold in the building, no electric, no plumbing, no HVAC," he said. "While a dollar might sound like a great deal -- in the long run, hopefully it is -- initially you have to invest some money to put it in a condition you can use."

Robinette is investing $250,000, and the once-dilapidated property will soon serve as home for a market, a larger gift shop and pub.

MJK Management LLC is buying another city-owned property, near First Avenue and North Canal Street, for $11.39.

Taxpayers benefit because the city gets a liability off its books, assistant economic development director Matt Eisenbraum said. He cautioned the low price comes with some added expense -- as Robinette knows well.

"We have to work together," Eisenbraum said. "It's not for every business. But for those who can utilize what we've got, we'll typically say, 'Make us an offer,' and we'll see what makes sense."

The process is coming to an end, but Eisenbraum said it's a sign of booming business for downtown Middletown: "Because of all the things that are going on down here, we're running out of inventory."