We've said before in this space the Keller Building is not worth saving. Despite our repeated calls to tear down the eyesore that has stood empty in downtown Sandusky for decades, historic preservationists have soldiered on and have held firm to their vision of redeveloping the building into something useful.
All of their hard work and patience seems to have paid off as the city of Sandusky this week selected Dave Williams, a Columbus-based developer, to renovate the five-story building into 84 apartments along with retail and restaurants on the street level.
For the city, this is a win-win situation since Williams will arrange for his own financing for the project and has a successful history of developing similar projects using state housing grants. The city, meanwhile, doesn't have to spend a dime and might actually someday realize a return on the $74,000 it spent mothballing the building in 2008. The city also avoids, or at least delays, the cost of taking the building down while keeping hope alive that it will someday generate some tax revenue.
Critics of the project, most notably city commissioner Dan Kaman, are calling Williams' vision of the Keller Building and surrounding area "pie in the sky" with little hope of fulfilling its potential in these challenging economic times.
We'll see -- well, in at least two to five years, which is the time frame Williams said it will take to bring the project to fruition. But when we've been waiting decades for something to happen, what's another five years?
In the meantime, we call upon city leaders to keep a close eye on the new developer and his lofty vision for the Keller Building. By all means, we hope it works. But if for some reason it doesn't, the city has to have the resolve to finally make the hard decision and realize demolishing the building might in fact be the necessary step toward completion of the Paper District.