Over 300 new jobs could pop up in Grove City, once the old lumberyard site is developed. This is according to Stonehenge Developer Mo Dion, who has been working on the project for more than three years.
Dion presented the redevelopment plan at the April 23 community meeting at City Hall.
The city plans to convert the lumberyard site, which sits behind City Hall, into an "urban park" that includes housing, office space, retail space and open areas. Dion said the project would not only create jobs, but attract people into the downtown area.
The city has already set aside funding for a 300 plus space parking garage. Grove City Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said the parking would be free.
The 74,000 square feet of building space would house retail, office and education space. Dion said this would result in local jobs, some high paying positions.
"If people are working in the area, they will stay and spend money where they work," said the developer.
Dion estimated that the development would have a $500,000 to $600,000 positive impact in Grove City.
The city wants to include a "Center of Learning" in the development. Ashland University, Columbus State Community College and The Ohio State University Extensions have expressed a strong interest in satellite campuses in the Town Center.
City representatives also said there are three other colleges that have expressed interest.
The city’s goal is to get all six colleges into the development to share space and resources to attract over 2,000 students.
Mike Snyder, from Columbus State, said the college would offer basic courses such as math, English and humanities at the satellite branch. He explained they would need space for classrooms, a computer lab and a science lab.
"We know this is the right thing for Grove City," said Snyder.
Columbus State has about a dozen similar sites in central Ohio.
Dion said the college students would be able to take advantage of the public open space and it would be an economic boost for the city.
Council President Ted Berry said the new plan, which does not include relocating the Grove City Library, is financially responsible.
"Its focus is bringing over 300 new jobs to the Town Center and that must be the first priority," Berry said.
He added the city is saving approximately $7 million, by not purchasing the library site, which would allow the city to focus on economic development and other projects.
"As our citizens are suffering from foreclosures and job loss, it is our job to focus on creating economic opportunity through laying the ground work for high paying jobs."
During the meeting, Stage reminded residents of the downtown redevelopment project of 1988, where the city had to purchase and tear down buildings to create what is now the Town Center. This was accomplished with little money and without a developer.
The mayor said this downtown redevelopment plan is different in that, "We own the land, we have the money and we have a developer."
"I consider this a 100-year decision," Stage added.
The estimated total project cost is $29 million, $17 million in public investment and $12 million in private investment. Dion said construction could be complete by the spring or summer of 2011.