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Study of the casino area presented
The results of an economic development study conducted by Central Ohio Community Improvement Corporation (COCIC) were presented to residents July 14.
The study is a forecast of what the casino district could develop into within 10-20 years.
However, for residents hoping to find specific answers, they would not find them. The meeting was the first of many and would only address the study’s preliminary results and garner feedback from residents on business investments.
“This is the beginning of a three month process and we’re just getting started,” COCIC Executive Director Joel Teaford said.
According to Shyam Kannan, principal at Robert Charles Lesser & Co, the future seems bleak at first scan of the study area. Kannan said there is lots of commercial space within the area that at one point were occupied by stores – but now commercial vacancy is at 25 percent.
The high percentage of vacancy in both commercial buildings and residential neighborhoods was said to be a reason investors have steered clear of local commercial, office, and residential markets the last 10-15 years.
“An outside investor not familiar with the neighborhoods does not see data that makes them feel comfortable,” Kannan said, adding these are problems that can be combated.
According to Kannan, their analysis showed a push for restaurant and merchandise locations. Additionally, when looking at the spending power of the study area’s households, they found it was at par with areas like Easton, Polaris, and Tuttle Crossing.
After analyzing the data, Kannan said they could begin attracting outside investors by creating urban entertainment venues like shopping plazas or restaurants, which spur further investments like the development of apartment buildings and the reinvestment into housing. As an increasingly good vibe spreads throughout the area, the stats would slowly change, and investors could rethink developing projects in the area.
“The cycle starts to feed on itself,” Kannan said.
Data from the casino industry shows millions of visitors who play at urban casinos actually shop outside the casino walls, Kannan said. He added that, when they looked at every Penn National casino in the country, they found what grew the most from the 24 million business listings they studied were full service family restaurants and automotive servicing.
“We want to make sure we incorporate this knowledge,” Kannan said.
Kannan added the present plans for large scale community projects like Cooper Stadium can also be used as leverage to stimulate investments in the area.
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