$10 million in state funds earmarked for Memorial Hall

LIMA — Allen County Memorial Hall has long stood empty, its future in limbo due to its age and safety concerns. The uncertainty of the historic structure’s future may be nearing its end after it was announced Monday that $10 million in state capital funds have been earmarked for this building, according to a release from the office of Ohio Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima.

The funding is part of the first phase of capital budget funds to roll out this year after project submissions from throughout the state were evaluated by the legislature’s One-Time-Strategic Community Investment Fund. It represented the greatest share of almost $17.4 million allocated to projects throughout Huffman’s district.

“This fund was the result of strategic planning while we prepared the operating budget for the next two years,” Huffman said in a statement. “This additional investment really makes a difference in our communities, downtowns and neighborhoods that people will recognize.”

Huffman pointed to the $10 million for Memorial Hall specifically when discussing the benefits this funding can provide.

“Many downtowns across the state have been trying to revitalize, renovate and reinvigorate the vacant storefronts and empty buildings that cast a shadow on our communities,” he said in the statement. “This project will keep Lima’s downtown moving forward as a great destination to work, shop and call home.”

Allen County Commissioner Cory Noonan said the property is currently being evaluated by the Allen Economic Development Group and the Allen County Port Authority, and any final decisions on what is done with the building will have to wait until that analysis is complete.

“They do a lot of great work on identifying projects and assisting businesses, and this is an example of that,” he said. “We’ve had a couple of meetings and updates from them where they’re looking at opportunities for redevelopment and renovation of that structure. We haven’t got into the weeds on anything, but they are spearheading this.”

Noonan said there is no timetable yet as to when that analysis will be complete, but as to what the best decision will be for that property, Noonan said that will depend on what the economic development groups report.

“We look forward to meeting with them sometime in the future, and once they’ve looked at every angle and every opportunity, when they have the plans on what that next phase is for that structure, that’s when we’ll have that conversation with them,” he said. “If they believe in it, and they have a project — and they have a pretty successful record with that — we’ll go from there.”

Other Allen County projects included in Huffman’s announcement were:

• Allen County Airport Fuel Farm: $1 million

• Rhodes State College Advanced Manufacturing Lab: $440,000

• Allen County Child Support Enforcement Agency Facility: $375,000

• Temple Christian School Building Expansion: $250,000

• Heir Force Community School Land Acquisition: $250,000