City seeks to fill three vacant schools and armory and hospital buys vacant strip mall
Over the last several years, several schools and businesses in the Wooster area have vacated their buildings, leaving the city at loss of what to do with the property.
With a mostly vacated strip mall just north of The College of Wooster campus and three vacant school buildings in the area, the city of Wooster will be undergoing a significant amount of construction and change over the next several years.
While plans for future construction are in place for the College Hills Plaza strip mall, home to businesses such as Chinese restaurant Hop Hing and Dollar General, there is currently no plan for the vacated schools’ lots.
In December 2009, the Wooster Community Hospital purchased the seven-acre College Hills Plaza for $4.2 million with the plan of expanding the hospital into the shopping center. Since the purchase, many of the previously leased spaces have been vacated. While the hospital inherited the leases in College Hills Plaza when the space was purchased, Hop Hing has decided to invoke its right to extend the space’s lease until October of 2016.
In an interview done by The Daily Record with Wooster Community Hospital CEO Bill Sheron in April 2011, it was made clear that the hospital is in no hurry to begin construction. “We certainly do plan to expand north, but we are in no rush,” said Sheron. “We have some preliminary plans for the property, but the fact that [Hop Hing] is there and has extended their lease is not a problem for us.”
The district, on the other hand, has yet to present a plan for the three vacant school buildings – Layton Elementary School, Wayne Elementary School and Lincoln Way Elementary School. The district is also currently in possession of a vacant armory, which was first owned by the federal government but was eventually passed down to the school district. While nothing concrete has been settled, the district has decided to begin determining what to do with Layton Elementary, since it has been closed since 2004. The other two schools were closed at the end of the last school year. December’s public meeting to continue the dialogue about the vacated spaces will be held Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. in Wooster High School’s group instruction room.