MOUNT VERNON – Huntington Bank closed its downtown Mount Vernon branch on Jan. 8, 2019. On Tuesday – 364 days later – the property at 136 S. Main St. was sold to a real estate developer with local ties.
Mazza Consulting, LLC, a Worthington-based firm owned by Mount Vernon native Joel Mazza, purchased the property from Huntington Bank for $330,000, Mazza told Knox Pages Tuesday.
Mazza considered it a “small investment” financially, considering the upside of the property.
“We bought it strictly for investment purposes. We think that the re-gentrification of downtown is a safe bet, or a solid investment…” Mazza said. “We do consider it to be a marquee piece of property downtown.”
Mazza already owns several Mount Vernon properties, including the old middle school at 301 N. Mulberry St., the former Mazza’s Restaurant at 208-218 W. High St., two commercial properties on Harcourt Road (504 and 506), and Vine Street Church of Christ at 110 E. Vine St. He also owns several billboards within the county.
The building at 136 S. Main St. was built in 1963, according to the Knox County auditor’s website. It has always been a bank. First, it was First Federal Savings and Loan of Wooster, as is etched into the sandstone on the front of the building. According to Mazza, First Merit Corporation eventually acquired the bank, and Huntington Bank then acquired First Merit.
Huntington Bank decided to close its downtown Mount Vernon location in 2019 due to “overall branch consolidation,” according to the Mount Vernon News. There is still one Huntington Bank branch in Mount Vernon, located at 901 Coshocton Ave, as well as a drive-thru at 324 S. Main St.
While the building at 136 S. Main St. has always served as a bank, Mazza seemed open about ideas for redevelopment. He mentioned potentially working with Knox County’s three institutions of higher learning – Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Kenyon College and Central Ohio Technical College – to find use for the space.
“I think it would be a fantastic facility,” he said. “But right now, as of today, we don’t have anyone in mind. We’re open to both suggestions from the community and/or other investors or developers.”
Mazza Consulting, LLC plans to lease the property. The building includes three floors, an elevator, an on-site parking lot, and numerous other features that allow it to stand out downtown.
“I think aesthetically and structurally, it’s one of the most appealing buildings in the downtown Central Business District,” Mazza said. “I mean, having only been built in 1962, it has a slate roof, sandstone, brick – the finishes are top-notch. Also, although it’s limited parking, it has 7-9 spots on-site, which is a huge positive there.
“The fact that it has an elevator – that’s something that a lot of buildings in the downtown Central Business District don’t have. And I guess lastly is the fact it has been a large institutional owner for so many years, the maintenance of this facility was second to none. So although it was somewhat dated, it’s just a fantastic structure.”
The property consists of four parcels, which coincide with long-held downtown land plats, according to Knox County Auditor Jonette Curry. The four parcels combine for an appraised property value of $403,850, according to the auditor’s website.
Mazza said he chose to invest in another downtown Mount Vernon property because he believes in the area. Mazza's family came to Mount Vernon in the 1920s and has long been involved in the local business and real estate scene.
"We’d love to work with the community and be a part of the redevelopment," he said.
The property at 136 S. Main St. is located at the northeast corner of South Main Street and Gambier Street, an intersection that has seen plenty of redevelopment in recent months.
On the southeast corner, upper-level apartments are being built to house college faculty and medical providers. On the southwest corner, South Main Plaza opened in December (the project will be completed in the spring).
Both projects are seen as part of a larger effort to make downtown Mount Vernon a more walkable, livable community.