By Andrea Cordle
At the Dec. 4 meeting, Grove City Council approved a preliminary development plan for Beulah Park, but postponed a vote on spending $6 million to extend Columbus Street, which would connect the Beulah property to downtown Grove City.
Donald Plank, an attorney for the developer Grove City Beulah Park Investments, LLC, presented the preliminary development plan to council. The plan is to redevelop 213 acres of the former Beulah Park racetrack site.
According to Plank, the redevelopment project includes plans for housing and commercial space. There would be single-family and multi-family housing, including apartments, condominiums and town homes. There would also be a 175-bed assisted living facility. The conceptual plan calls for a 29-acre community park, with smaller parks and open spaces throughout the area.
Plank said the developer plans to set aside space for commercial development, but admitted there has been no discussions on it, unlike the housing aspect.
“I could not tell you what would be there at this time,” said the attorney.
Councilman Ted Berry wanted Plank to say unequivocally that there would be no new warehouses included in the plan.
“If it looks like a warehouse and smells like a warehouse, Ted’s not voting for it,” said Berry.
Plank said there are no plans for a traditional warehouse at the site.
While council members were on board for much of the preliminary plan, they could not agree to vote on funding to extend Columbus Street – something Plank says is pivotal in the Beulah Park redevelopment plan.
“That (the Columbus Street extension) is a big reason there is a lot of interest,” said Plank.
He said without the street connection, the city could lose business opportunity.
Council voted to postpone legislation that would provide $6 million to improve and extend Columbus Street with a 3-2 vote.
Councilman Steve Bennett voted against the postponement, saying it was time for council to step up and construct the road. He believes it would only lead to further economic development in the Town Center.
“We keep kicking this down the road,” said Bennett. “If you build it, they will come.”
Council president Roby Schottke agreed.
“It will enhance the Town Center,” he said.
The remaining council members voted to postpone the funding, needing more clarity.
Councilman Jeff Davis said city leaders have been discussing this project for years and still there are too many questions.
“Will there be a plaza? More parking? Is this step one? What is the role of the developer in this project,” asked Davis. “Our wallet is just open. I would prefer more concrete answers.”
Councilman Steve Robinette said he is not against the concept, he just wants to weigh it with more context.
“I don’t know what we are buying,” he said.
Grove City resident Roger Burket encouraged council to vote against the street extension project all together. He said there are already streets that connect the Town Center with the Beulah area and another one would be a waste of money.
“We don’t need another one,” said Burket. “It makes no sense.”
Burket said he was concerned about the city purchasing property to extend the street and moving people from their homes and businesses.
Grove City resident and councilwoman-elect Christine Houk said spending $6 million at this time seems hasty and city leaders should be more responsible to the taxpayers. She asked council to postpone the vote even further, so she could weigh in once on council, after the beginning of the year.
Council postponed the vote on the $6 million road project to the Dec. 18 meeting.
According to Plank, the developer’s goal is to start construction on the Beulah Park redevelopment project this spring and have a development plan before council in early 2018.
“We need that connectivity though,” Plank said.