At the heart of downtown Chillicothe, Ohio, stands the Carlisle Building. Heavily damaged by an arson fire several years ago, city officials, the Chamber of Commerce, and residents are trying to determine if the building can be put to new use -- or will need to be torn down.
It's a daunting challenge for a small city to deal with such a large undertaking. The night before I arrived a consultant's report was released that focused on ways of strengthening downtown. The number one priority was saving the Carlisle.
When I spoke with Marvin Jones, who heads the Chamber of Commerce, he referred to the Carlisle as a "huge asset" for the city. Part of the difficulty is that the land owner is not from the area -- plus the hefty cost of any rehab.
Chillicothe's downtown is also struggling, which makes taking on the Carlisle even more of a challenge. But downtown Chillicothe contains a remarkable set of buildings -- including the Ross County Courthouse diagonally across Paint Street from the Carlisle. See photos below.
When I visited Parkersburg, West Virginia, a few days ago I heard about the powerful impact that the rehab of the Blennerhassett Hotel has had on their downtown -- helping serve as a magnet for subsequent development.
Hopefully, the citizens and leaders of Chillicothe will find a way to put the Carlisle to reuse. If any of you have any ideas (or financial resources!), let the good folks of Chillicothe know.