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Use of former school buildings very gratifying

February 18, 2012
Salem News

Here at the Salem News, we can look right out our front window to see a great example of progressive thinking. Kent State bought and fully utilizes the former Salem Junior High School building. The Kent State University City Center offers everything from student instruction to community concerts in a building that in most like instances would have become sheer blight. Many aging buildings follow the route of deterioration and neglect. They become eyesores and possible hazards. But not the former the former junior high building thanks to Kent State Salem.

Another example is nearby. The former South Range middle and high schools are being used instead of sitting abandoned or even being torn since that district opened its spanking new complex on Columbiana-Canfield Road in Beaver Township.

The buildings are now business incubators, helping to hatch, if you will, new enterprises. A local company, Greenford Bobcats LLC, is owned by Green Township residents John Monroe and former township trustee Ed Schaefer. The partners purchased the district's old buildings with a hope of encouraging business growth. That would include, of course, jobs creation. It seems to be working.

The former South Range Middle School building on route 165 is now called - what a cool name too - the Greenford Bobcats Space Center. The company also owns and operates the North Lima Business Complex in the former South Range High School and Elementary buildings.

The Greenford Bobcats Space Center, with 36 rooms in the 67,000-square foot facility, houses a convenience store, a restaurant called The Smokehouse at Greenford, a day care center, a media group, general offices and an insurance company.

The North Lima Business Complex is located at 11836 South Avenue in the former high school building near the intersection of routes 164 and 165.

It has 46 rooms in approximately 100,000 square feet and houses varied enterprises such as crafting and antique stores, an Ebay consignment shop, a media group, a flea market on weekends and catering out of the commercially licensed kitchen. It will also serve as permanent offices for the Tadmor Circus, which will hold its events in the gymnasium.

As we detailed in a page 1A story yesterday, a grand opening is scheduled today at the North Lima Business Complex from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. with 15 businesses being jointly featured.

Both facilities offer hourly rentals and open gyms, as well as provide practice space for area sports teams. The business owners stress strength in numbers and provide support for each other. Rent in the building is very affordable. High rent often prohibits a business from even getting off the ground.

It is gratifying to see good use being made of former school buildings located in Salem, Greenford and North Lima. That used to be called thinking out of the box. We'd like to call if a common sense business approach - using existing properties that in most instances would have ended up on the wrong end of a wrecking ball. Both Kent State and Greenford Bobcats LLC deserve a public salute. The new business enterprisers deserve a hearty good luck as they launch their respective endeavors. We've seen enough buildings and businesses fall to the wayside around here. This is good to see.



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