AUSTINBURG — It’s been nearly three years since workers removed four underground tanks from beneath the long-abandoned gas station at the corner of state routes 45 and 307.
It was “a long process” and one of many steps toward remediating the blighted property and placing a renovated structure in the hands of an area entrepreneur, said Dave Thomas, Ashtabula County auditor.
Passersby soon will see that process come to fruition when Austinburg residents Wyatt Bratt and his brother-in-law, Thomas Polak, open a custom furniture-design-and-build shop at the site later this year.
The $100,000 project is just getting started, Bratt said.
“The roof is on,” he said. “We are in the rough renovation stage right now.”
Bratt said he’s the “design and build man,” while Polak will be serve as store manager and handle sales.
The Port Authority bought the property in March 2016 through the county land bank, which pushes blighted properties through foreclosure proceedings and into the hands of a redevelopment entity.
The authority spent about $40,000 to assess the level of contamination at the site. In 2016, the Ohio Development Services Agency awarded the authority about $99,000 to unearth the petroleum and gasoline tanks, scrape out contaminated backfill and replace it with clean dirt.
The gas station, formerly known as Auto World, has been abandoned for more than 30 years and wasn’t connected to the county sewer line, so while the ground was open, workers made a new connection.
After meeting environmental remediation requirements, workers started the renovation process. Some of the existing structure will be saved and revamped.
The Port Authority was one of the first entities in the state to receive an Abandoned Gas Station Cleanup Grant and one of the first to break ground on a project.
ODSA officials used the Austinburg re-development as a model for other state projects.