Local business owner and developer Dave Westhoff has had a few laughs this past week as a few friends have asked him what he’s going to do with the city’s old jail in back of Ashland City Hall.

Actually, Westhoff bought city hall – but the old jail is a landmark that was not part of Westhoff’s purchase.

But Westhoff is optimistic after he closed the deal last week, buying city hall for $140,000 a week after selling the City of Ashland his property on East Broadway for $375,000.

“That building is really two separate buildings,” Westhoff said of city hall. “I already have someone interested in the side currently used by the police department – a retail store.”

Westhoff said he thought the east side of the building would be eventually rented out for office space.

“We have some work to do in that building – there will be some remodeling done. People don’t realize about 50% of that side of the building is storage. It’s an interesting building.”

Westhoff, who opened Dave’s Frozen Custard in Ashland in 1994, has built or rennovated four other buildings in town:

Dave’s Depot, which is now Pizza Hut; and Dave’s Diner, which is now Connections Bank; The Y, at the corner of Main Street and Henry Clay, which is now Peak Sport and Spine; and a duplex at the corner of Redbud and North Henry Clay where he has his office and rents the office next door. He has also purchased the lot and the home behind that location with an eye on the future. Westhoff said he learned the importance of parking with his initial location, and added that he liked the parking for city hall – in back of the building.

“I have a passion for real estate,” Westhoff said of his professional career, “but I don’t do multiple projects at the same time. I do one project – that way if the real estate market does what it did in 2008, it can backfire on you. I like to take baby steps. Right now my focus will be on city hall and work we need to do there.”

By Bruce Wallace