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Council approves restaurant lease

All the Lawrence County Port Authority and the proprietor of a proposed restaurant at the Depot were waiting on was the Ironton City Council to adopt an ordinance approving a 15-year lease on the building. As of Thursday night, the wait is over.

Ordinance 14-15 amends ordinance 03-49 and authorizes the leasing of the depot restaurant to the Port Authority for three additional five-year renewal periods, taking it through 2029. Council suspended the rules and adopted the ordinance.

“The net effect of that is we have a restaurant tenant who has agreed to go into the building on the condition he is able to get a lease up to 15 years and also able to get the liquor license and things like that transferred,” Ralph Kline, assistant executive director of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization and Port Authority CFO, said. “The individual is trying to get in as soon as possible. He’s targeting May and that could be a little optimistic.”

According to ordinance 14-15 the Greater Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce assigned its interest in the lease to the Lawrence County Port Authority as of March 1, and the building has been remodeled and made operational for purposes of housing a restaurant and lounge.

The depot was home to the former Austyn’s restaurant. The restaurant will be called The Depot and serve traditional American fare.

The ordinance allows the building to revert back to the City of Ironton if left unoccupied or vacant for a period of 12 months.

“The sooner this ordinance passes the sooner the restaurant can open,” Rich Blankenship, Ironton mayor, said.

Vivian Vallance represented the chamber of commerce at the meeting and said the establishment’s liquor license would be applied for immediately and that process takes 10 weeks.

“The new owner is extremely involved and hands on,” Vallance said. “We talk to him every day.”

Kline said a June opening is more likely.

Also on the agenda was ordnance 14-05 vacating Washington Street from 8 ½ Alley (Maple Alley) to Ninth Street in Ironton.

“What this does is allows us to create another spot where we have an option signed with another tenant,” Kline said. “This is part of the Gateway redevelopment efforts.”

According to the ordinance the property owner petitioned for the vacation, city council has determined there is good cause for such vacation and it would not be detrimental to the general interests and such portion is not needed for thoroughfare purposes and that vacation should be made.

“We’re vacating the street and moving it over,” Blankenship said.

A letter to city council from the property owner, Old Engineer Property LLC, stated three parcels — 322 S. Ninth St., 402 S. Ninth St. and 812 Washington St. — would be vacated to better align with the rest of the Gateway Development Project.

Council suspended the rules and adopted the ordinance.

Also adopted at meeting is ordinance 14-16 to execute an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation for bridge inspection, which the state will pay for every two years. Ordinance 14-17 executing an agreement with Southern Ohio Trenching and Excavating Inc. for construction of the North Fifth and Elm Street Sewer Separation Phase II Project was referred to city council’s finance committee.

Council entered executive session prior to adjourning to discuss pending litigation. No action was taken afterward.