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Hancock County to purchase Findlay mall property

The goal is to move the county probate and juvenile court into the former JCPenney location and fill vacant storefronts with other county offices.

FINDLAY, Ohio — The Findlay mall may soon have a new owner, and that owner is Hancock County.

The purchase is intended to save millions in tax payer dollars.

At Tuesday's meeting, the Hancock County commissioners announced the county's intention to purchase one of the five newly created sub-parcels of the Findlay mall.

For $3.7 million, the county wants to buy the main section which is about 335,000 square feet of indoor space and joining parking lots.

The goal is to keep the mall operating as usual, but move multiple county offices into vacant storefronts on the north side of the property.

"We want to keep all of the retail, and of course fill up that space that isn't filled up by retail. And then the back of Lot 4 we will use for county offices," county commissioner Bill Bateson said.

The funding for the purchase comes from additional money in the budget from a 1/4 percent sales tax approved a few years ago, and renovations for the new court will come from a $5.8 million bond.

The primary purpose of the purchase is to house the county's probate and juvenile court.

Until recently, the plan was to build a brand new, $10 million courthouse in the downtown Findlay parking lot, but the move into the old JCPenney location will save the county millions of dollars.

"Parking in downtown Findlay is very tight, and if we removed all of those county parking spots it would be even tighter. So, out at the mall there is plenty of parking and easy access for our taxpayers to get in and use our county offices," county commissioner Mike Pepple said.

There was no immediate timeline for how soon the county will be able to move their probate and juvenile court into the mall property. 

However, within the week, county commissioners will be signing their letter of intent to purchase the property. Then, they will have 75 days to do their due diligence in making sure the space is able to properly host their county offices.