(by Whitney Wilson Coy, Westside Editor - December 18, 2009)
Prairie Township residents’ hopes for a new senior center may have to be put on hold.
In November, Prairie Township Trustees approved the purchase of a parcel of land located at 42 Pasadena Ave., adjacent to the township offices, but plans for the deal have since changed.
Township Administrator, Tracy Hatmaker, said an addendum has been added to the buying agreement, allowing the current property owner to sell to a different buyer within 120 days if the new buyer is able to make the appropriate arrangements to build a medical office building on the land. As a result, Prairie would forfeit the purchase of the parcel.
Trustees initially approved the purchase of the land with hopes of using the site for a future senior/community center.
The township was set to purchase part of a parcel of land from the Fergus Company for $100,000, however, the owners have received an offer for the entire portion of the land to be purchased, pending the proper zoning approval.
The development would be a “pretty good size” medical office building, said Hatmaker.
Trustee Steve Kennedy said the seller is basically asking Prairie Township to step aside, however, the addendum states the new buyer must meet certain criteria within 120 days or the township’s original purchase agreement stands.
“There are a lot of things that have to be met before we would agree to do that,” said Kennedy, naming the Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) with Columbus, as well as the Community Reinvestment Area (CRA).
“The (buyer) has agreed to join the CRA and the JEDD, which has the potential to have additional income. Once they agree to go into the JEDD, they would pay into the Columbus income tax, which the township would get a share of. We’re talking about high-dollar salaries that are going to be in that building and it makes logical sense for the township to try to make this deal to start generating extra dollars that the township has never seen before for projects,” said Kennedy.
“If the township were to step aside, realizing this is a great time to get the CRA and the JEDD started and create positive economic development in the area, the real concern would be where would the site be located for the community/senior center,” said Hatmaker.
Hatmaker said the property owner is involved with commercial real estate and has provided a letter promising to work with the township to find, if necessary, an alternative location for the Prairie Township senior/community center.
Hatmaker said the letter promising help from the seller is comforting on two levels.
“(The agreement) would be a positive thing for the township. It would help protect the township. It does make it more attractive in terms of the townships interest...We have looked at sites in the past and we’ve never really had the professional commercial real estate people to help us,” said Hatmaker.
The trustees and Hatmaker said the new office building would be a step in rebuilding the whole area surrounding the township offices.
“This is great. It’s a two story medical building, it’s not a not-for-profit, because we tend to get a lot of that in the township. It’s something that is going to be paying taxes. It will actually be rebuilding this particular area of the township that I think is ripe for revitalization,” said trustee Nicole Schlosser.
“You know, down the road this is step one. It is somewhere you’ve got to start. This is the opportunity to get started in a positive way and hopefully it starts from there and it goes all down the corridor,” said Kennedy.