Mentor officials are eyeing their options for a century home on the Springbrook Gardens Park property.
City Council got a rundown on the possibilities from the administration at a recent work session.
The building, at 6752 Heisley Road, and some surrounding land was bought by the city in 2016 for $310,000 to complete the parkland acquisition.
The initial purchase was for the 53 acres of former nursery property at 6842 Heisley, which the city bought from the Schultz family for $2.5 million in 2014.
Springbrook Gardens belonged to the family for more than 100 years and was among the last large pieces of undeveloped privately owned parcels in Mentor.
The original deal enabled Schultz’s grandson to remain in the 1910 home for up to three years — a condition that allowed the city to buy it at a prorated price. It has been vacant for 2 ½ years.
At the time the house was purchased, City Manager Ken Filipiak said the administration would like to see it incorporated into the larger footprint of the public park. That hasn’t changed.
However, he presented three options at the May 4 meeting:
- Razing the structure
- Renovating and repurposing it for city use
- Splitting it off from the park and selling it on the open market
The parcel is zoned residential, and a commercial use would require a voter-approved zoning change.
Filipiak indicated the house is of little value to the city as office space, and renting it out for events would compete with the all-season pavilion planned at the park, as well as with Wildwood Cultural Center.
“Renovation costs would have to go into that … if you’re going to use that for another public purpose,” he said, adding that it could be in the six-figure range.
He noted that removing the house would provide benefits such as opening the park visually and creating more usable space by tying it into the existing walkway.
“An additional benefit (would be) to not having the inherent conflicts that we usually do over time trying to marry private and public interests,” Filipiak said. “While we admire a lot of architecture on the interior, it would require additional money for a purpose we don’t have.”
The demolition cost is believed to be in the $10,000 range, not including remediation. He said the city likely would be able to obtain landbank funds for the removal project.
However, some Council members expressed opposition to demolition.
“I’m 100 percent in favor of saving the building,” Councilman at large Ray Kirchner said. “I think we should get an estimate, get it renovated, sell it to offset the cost of renovating it and put the money back into the park. I just think it would be a shame to tear that building down.”
Councilwoman at large Janet Dowling concurred.
“There’s a lot of heat this Council has taken on structures that have been taken down in Mentor,” she said. “We didn’t own those; we own this.”
Ward 1 Councilman Sean Blake appeared conflicted about the home. He noted the cost to upgrade and the potential for more park space. He favored getting a renovation estimate.
“It’s a lot better looking on the inside than the outside,” he said.
Filipiak indicated that the city wouldn’t pay to renovate the home if it wasn’t being used for a public purpose.
Council President Bruce Landeg said it appeared that the consensus was not to raze the building at this time.
“I think we need more information on the other two options,” he said.