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Signed, sealed, delivered; Honeywell purchase a done deal

After more than three years in the works, the stroke of a pen sealed the deal Thursday when the city officially purchased the Honeywell site for developing the South Ironton Industrial Park.

"This is the first time in Ironton's history that we have had a property to offer for economic development, " Cleary said. "It is great to have this phase done and we will be taking an aggressive approach in finding tenants."

Cleary finalized the contracts with Stephen Oliver, an attorney for Honeywell Inc. at the City Center. Ironton City Council members Jesse Roberts and Bob Isaacs, Betty Adams, fiscal officer and grant manager for community development at the CAO, Finance Director Cindy Anderson and other city officials were present for the closing.

Mayor Cleary sent a letter to Gov. Bob Taft inviting him to Ironton for the closing but he was unable to attend.

Now the city is ready to get to work finding businesses to fill the park, Cleary said.

"We will be working closely with the Ohio Department of Development and sending out packets of information to potential developers," he said. "We want businesses that will enhance the park."

The city received state grants to purchase the $375,000, 40-acre site. Formerly Allied Signal, it is located at Third and Lorain streets.

If developed properly, the site could accommodate more than 1,200 jobs, Cleary said.

Currently, there is a 5,000 square-foot building on the property that has never been occupied. The first phase of construction will be constructing a road within the property connecting these two streets.

There has been a lot of interest in the property during the last few years, but they couldn't really do anything until they officially owned it, Cleary said.

The Ohio Department of Transportation has agreed to purchase 8.5 acres and move their garages. The city would then own ODOT's current location at 3001 S. Sixth Street, Cleary said.

"ODOT told us they want to have a signed purchase agreement by Sept. 1 and start the construction next spring," he said.

In the future, the city hopes to put a fountain in the rainwater retention pond and develop walking trails around the park, Cleary said.

The property was a Superfund site, an area classified as an environmentally contaminated site by the Environmental Protection Agency.

It was deemed cleaned to residential standards and taken of the list by the EPA in 1999. However, it will still only be used for commercial and industrial purposes, he said.

There have been numerous delays and road blocks along the way.

The deal was delayed because of an attempted merger between Honeywell and General Electric in 2001. "Our deal was laying on the table, ready to be signed," Cleary said. "Then GE said to stop all sales."

After the merger fell apart, the city began working hard to get the deal restarted.

Three years of work culminated in the stroke of a single ink pen. Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune