SEBRING, Ohio (WKBN) – Monday, a major step forward was made in cleaning up the old Royal China site. It’s more than 20 acres of land in the heart of Sebring.

Ohio Senator Michael Rulli (R-Salem), State Representative Lauren McNally (D-Youngstown) and other local officials were in town to discuss the new phase for the 20-acre brownfield site. Environmental specialists are now taking soil samples at the property with hopes to redevelop this area.

“I think it’s really great to see a tangible proof of the brownsfields’ concept, and I think brownfield is all about starting over again. It’s all about a new slate, and it’s really exciting,” Rulli said.

Dinnerware was made here for 70 years until a fire shut down operations in 1969. The rest of the building burned down in 2011.

Since that time, the property has been vacant because the soil is contaminated with over 2,300 tons of lead. Last year, the State of Ohio awarded Sebring a $1.5 million toxic soil remediation plan.

The Mahoning County Landbank first acquired the property after a tax foreclosure. The property which sits on South 15th Street was then purchased in 2020 by Sebring native Michael Conny.

“I sat here since I was 6 years old and watched this place burn,” Conny said.

Conny wants to bring manufacturing back to the village.

“There’s a chance to bring industry back to Sebring. That’s really the goal here. The goal is to work with the state to get jobs back into this town,” he said.

Environmental specialists could be seen gathering soil samples throughout Monday morning — a process that should be finished in about a year. The samples will then be sent to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for review.

Many in attendance said this added momentum to the future of the site.

“Today is a day that Sebring has been waiting on for 30 to 40 years,” Conny said.

As remediation begins, environmental specialists said this will not put residents at risk.