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Ironton City Council to decide on rent ordinance

Ironton City Council will decide this week if those who rent at the City Center will continue to pay a reduced rent.

An ordinance, which offered renters a 50 percent reduction in rent, was passed last year for a 12-month period. The first and second readings of an ordinance to renew the rates were given at the Feb. 11 and Feb. 25 meetings.

The third reading and a vote are expected to take place Thursday at the next council meeting.

The object of the ordinance is to encourage businesses to rent at the center, Mayor Rich Blankenship said.

Business owners petitioned the city, asking for a lowered rent.

“The reason it was done last year is the businesses said (rent) was pretty high,” he said.

Having more businesses in the center would generate revenue, even if the rent is lower, he said.

“Well obviously it’s better having it rented out than vacant,” Blankenship said. “We’re getting zero (dollars) if it’s not rented.”

If reestablished, the ordinance would require that businesses request the rent decrease in writing. Utility costs will not be reduced. The ordinance also stipulates that in the event that the renter does not pay the rent, the reduction will be void.

The rates for the spaces currently range from $110 to $250 not including utilities. The rent varies depending on the square footage of the space.

Right now the center is home to Suzy Q’s Café, a Mary Kay office, Assist-2-Sell and Patrick Insurance.

Some of the renters say there is not much foot traffic in the center.

“There’s not a lot of traffic in and out except for court day,” Misty Runyon, who runs Suzy Q’s Café, said. “There’s sufficient amount of people coming in and out paying bills, but it’s really busy, though, on court days.”

Most of the business Runyon sees comes from friends, family and other people that know the business is there, she said.

A business called Scrubs used to rent in the front of the center. The space now is empty but there are plans to put an Ohio State University apparel store there.

“If they had more businesses that was successful it would be a tremendous difference, a big difference,” Runyon said.

Deborah Barker owns the Mary Kay office there. Barker does not sell cosmetics out of the space, but uses it for training among other things.

Barker said if she had to rely on the foot traffic to keep her in business, she would be broke.

“There’s no one that comes in there except those who come to pay a bill,” she said.

Barker has rented at the City Center for four non-consecutive years. One of the reasons she left in the past was because of the high rent, she said.

“Of course from a business standpoint, I would hate to see the rent go back up,” she said. “That’s one of the reason’s that I left.”

Barker added that she likes the space she’s in because she feels safe having the police department near by.

“As far as the building, I feel safe,” Barker said, adding that she is frequently in the office late at night. “I do appreciate the place that I have and I love it because of the police being housed right behind it.”

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Mar.11 at the Ironton City Center.