The county is once again faced with the task of determining what to do with the Ben Hur Life Insurance Company building.
In April, the Montgomery County Commissioners approved an ordinance that dissolved an agreement with the Vandalia Heritage Foundation who was refurbishing the building.
The project would have developed the building into an upscale hotel with a conference center and restaurant.
“In an agreement we had with that company, they had until the end of 2018 to show substantial compliance and completion of the project,” Commissioner Jim Fulwider said. “It just got finally got to the point that it became evident to us that this was not going to happen in a timely manner per the agreement when we got to the start of 2018 and the project hadn’t even started yet. Obviously, you begin to see that this is not going to get done.”
According to Fulwider, the commissioners received the rights to the building via a tax sale certificate.
Fulwider and Commissioner John Frey said the next step will be to have a public hearing at their July 23 meeting and to eventually receive proposals from developers.
“I don’t think we’re going to give this building away. Honestly, we’ve got some ideas and things that we could utilize it for county use in my opinion,” Frey said. “We’re still in the beginning stages of any kind of idea with what we might do with it.
Fulwider said the project is going to take the right people that have the funds to do it and are also willing to work with the historical society.
“Hopefully we can get it into the hands of someone that has the ability, the funds and stuff to be able to develop that building and put it back in use,” he said. “It’s a good solid building structural wise, it’s a neat building and obviously and it’s a historic building too.”
Fulwider said the new proposal would likely be similar to the previous case where it is developed into some type of a living arrangement such as a hotel, condo or apartment.