WHITEHALL, Ohio (WCMH) — Behind a wire fence stands a 50-acre site of ruined homes in Whitehall.

Broken windows, warped siding, torn-off doors, and a tree poking through a roof mark a blighted site the city’s been working to address for 12 years.

Recently, arsonists set fire to the duplexes at Woodcliff Condominiums, at Broad and Hamilton roads, destroying a three-story structure on April 20, another on April 22, and a third building on May 8.

How Woodcliff looks now

But this is set to change as the City of Whitehall moves on plans to redevelop the site into a $200 million, mixed-use community with an eye to creating a bedroom community for Intel workers and Intel-spawned businesses.

“The city acquired this site in 2019, as the culmination of a 12-year-long public nuisance case against the previous ownership,” City Administrator Zach Woodruff said. “The site was twice declared a public nuisance by Franklin County courts, had a blight designation on it from Whitehall City Council, and was truly a superuser of our safety forces, where our police department had to come out here 2.4 times per day, every day.”

City needs $4.5 million for demolition

Whitehall worked with NR Investments of Miami to create a site plan that was approved by council members late in 2021. Now it is waiting for $4.5 million from the Ohio Department of Development to demolish the eyesores and begin building.

Proposed redevelopment for Woodcliff

Even if the money doesn’t come through, Whitehall plans to go ahead with demolishing the buildings this summer, according to Woodruff.

The redevelopment into 1,000 residential units, and 250,000 square feet of office space, as well as 50,000-75,000 square feet of ground-floor restaurant and retail space, will be integrated into the city’s 80-acre Whitehall Community Park featuring walking paths, wildflowers, and meadows, with access to the Big Walnut Creek.

“Twenty percent of the housing built will be dedicated for workforce housing,” Woodruff said. “The city is committed to ensuring that anyone — regardless of income or family structure — can find a great place to work in Whitehall. We want to be sure that we’re building the housing for the person buying the $4 cup of coffee, or the person making the $4 cup of coffee.”

No one has lived in the homes for three years, when the city bought out the last of the condominium owners and tenant leases expired. Since then, it’s been used as a training ground for Whitehall Division of Fire and search and rescue agencies.

“We’re hopeful that the state will award the grant and we can start demolition really soon,” Woodruff said.