By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage delivered the State of the City address on Oct. 8 at the Grand Oaks Event Center. Development was the focal point of his speech.
According to Stage, Grove City is on its way to becoming a “full service community.” He said this community offers its residents commerce, education, recreation, safety and health care. He sees this falling in place through development over the next 20 years.
“This is what we want to grow up to be like,” said Stage.
Stage said the city’s biggest challenge is how to keep the downtown lively.
In the past few years, there has been more than $3 million put into the Town Center, through public and private investment. The city has improved the sidewalks, parking and lighting. It has also established a grant program designed to help current business owners and attract future businesses.
Last month, city council approved a Town Center redevelopment design concept from the Pizzuti Companies. The proposed plan includes repositioning City Hall and using that building to house at least one restaurant along with retail and office space. It also includes adding a water feature outside City Hall and a mall-like walkway for increased connectivity. The walkway would lead to an upscale 120-unit apartment complex geared toward young professionals. It is a $14 million project in private investment.
According to city leaders, an integral part of the Town Center revitalization project is the relocation of the Grove City Library.
Stage said this project has had mixed reviews with residents.
“I am always asked, ‘why do you need a new library,’” said Stage.
The mayor said the current library building on Park Street was built in 1974. He said it would cost the Southwest Public Libraries $8 million to renovate and upgrade its current site.
The city and the library have collaborated to build a 48,000 square foot library, along Broadway in the Town Center. The new site would offer more space, more technology and an expanded children’s area.
Under the agreement, the Southwest Public Libraries will give its current building to the city.
“We will have additional acreage downtown,” said Stage. “That is very exciting.”
Another key development project in the city is Beulah Park.
“We need to have a lot of discussion about Beulah,” Stage told the crowd.
Beulah Park is more than 200 acres of land along Southwest Boulevard, close to the core of the Town Center.
Last year, Penn National, the owner of Beulah Park, announced it would relocate its horse racing events to northeast Ohio. Since then, the city’s administration has been working with Penn National to make sure future development on the site would be appropriate for the area.
Racing is scheduled at Beulah Park through May.
“What happens when racing leaves?” asked Stage. “We need a transition.”
This year, city officials drafted a Beulah Park conceptual framework plan, which highlights the city’s hope for redevelopment of the site. City officials want a mixed use of development, but want to keep the area as a community-gathering destination.
In the State of the City, Stage also highlighted expanded health care with the addition of Mount Carmel Health Systems. It purchased the former Grovebrook Golf Course site near Hoover Road. Mount Carmel plans to open a 36,000 square foot emergency care facility early next year. A medical office complex will also open next year.
U.S. Congressman Steve Stivers was scheduled to speak at the address, but was unable to attend due to the recent government shutdown. He did address the crowd via Skype and praised the city for its development efforts.
“Grove City is clearly on the move,” said Stivers.