Developer wants $10 million to clean up McKinley Ave. site for project
Thrives Companies is seeking up to $10 million in state cleanup money for a polluted junkyard and former landfill on McKinley Avenue along the Scioto River.
Thrive wants to build a mixed-use development there that includes housing, a 12-acre park and a boat launch.
The site at 2474 McKinley Ave. is now home to Buckeye Auto Parts and has previousbeen a landfill. According to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the pollutants buried there include organics, inorganics, heavy metals, paints, pigments, incinerator ash, and demolition debris.
The Ohio EPA also said limited soil sampling in 1987 found semi-volatile organics and heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, lead, and nickel.
“The project is in the very early stages and is reliant on Brownfield funding,” Thrive President Mark Wagenbrenner said in an email to The Dispatch, declining further comment.
On Jan. 31, the deadline for the state grant application, the Columbus City Council approved a resolution supporting the application by Franklin County, in partnership with Thrive, for the state brownfield remediation money.
Thrive plans to call the development Westbend.
“By connecting more people to nature and natural resources, Westbend hopes to cultivate an area for residents and guests to live, work and play,” the City Council resolution said.
Houses, a quarry, and a landfill have occupied parts of the McKinley Avenue property, the resolution said. Ohio EPA records said the property also included the former Huston Landfill, also known as the McKinley Avenue Dump, that took in municipal, construction and industrial wastes from the 1950s to the 1970s. The city owned part of the property used as the landfill.
Environmental assessments indicate the need to clear and grade the site, addition of a soil cover or other remedies to prevent exposure to hazardous substances and petroleum.
According to a Jan. 4 letter from Phil Farnlacher of the Ohio EPA’s Division of Materials and Waste Management to Buckeye Auto Parts owner Scott Paine, three spots punched into the property detected methane at levels above the lower explosive limit of 5% methane.
But James Lee, and Ohio EPA spokesman, said gas is common at all landfills and that those readings are not concerning. “We do not believe that gas is migrating from the property,” he said.
Paine did not return a call left by The Dispatch.
Thrive, formerly Wagenbrenner Development, has applied for and received state brownfield cleanup money in the past.
That includes a $3 million Clean Ohio grant in 2012 to clean up the 56-acre Grandview Crossing site at Dublin Road and Grandview Avenue in Grandview Heights. That’s where Thrive is building 800 apartments and condominiums, a 180-unit senior-living facility, a 120-room hotel, a 3-acre park, plus office and retail space with restaurants, and a parking garage.
Two more Clean Ohio grants helped pay to clean up the old Gowdy Field site near Route 315 and Grandview Heights, which Wagenbrenner co-developed, and is now home to Spectrum and the Ohio State University’s Eye & Ear Institute and the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center.
The company also benefitted from state cleanup grants for the old A.C. Humko site in Harrison West, the former Jeffrey Mining site in Italian Village and the $36.5 million Rogue Fitness manufacturing plant on the former Timken Co. site at Cleveland and East 5th avenues in the Milo-Grogan neighborhood.