Former Fraser Paper mill in West Carrollton, Ohio, in final stage of demolition, with plans to also remove asbestos from warehouse, clean up 16 acres of the 42-acre site, which is slated for redevelopment; city aims to complete the work by this year-end

WEST CARROLLTON, Ohio , March 8, 2014 () – The city is moving closer to redeveloping the site of a former paper mill that once employed more than 300 people in West Carrollton's downtown corridor.

City officials are in the final phase of demolition on the 42-acre former Fraser Paper mill on South Elm Street.

On Friday, city leaders were joined by several Montgomery County officials to begin that last phase of work, which includes demolition and clean up, said Greg Gaines, the city's planner director. Steve Rauch Inc. is the contractor handling the excavation project.

About $800,000 -- including acquisition costs by the city, land bank funds by the county and other grants -- has been spent on the site since 2011, when the city bought the land, Gaines said.

Aside from demolition, the city is focusing on removing asbestos from a warehouse and cleaning up a 16-acre tract. Removal of debris and some basements also needs to be done with hopes of completing the work by the end of the year, Gaines said. Officials then can better market the site, which once employed 305 workers before the mill closed in 2001, said Tom Ross, West Carrollton economic development director.

Once zoned for manufacturing, the land is now earmarked for planned unit development, a designation that allows flexibility with retail, office, light manufacturing and other uses, Gaines said.

"It's definitely flexible," he said said of the zoning. "It's designed to be flexible for usages we didn't anticipate."

The city can use a master plan for the site completed by Woolpert Inc. in 2003 as a guide, but "we'd want to go back and see if it is still valid and makes sense," Gaines said.

Ross agreed, saying, "Priorities have changed as the economy has changed."

The process will include community meetings to get neighborhood input and gauge the best uses for the land, Ross said.

The property has railroad access, so Ross said some portion of the land will continue to be marketed for potential light industrial uses.

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