By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport residents have heard about the proposed Main Street development and some shared their views about the project.
The city of Groveport’s recently unveiled plan, named the 1847 Main plan, calls for construction of two, two-story brick buildings. The first building at 674-716 Main St., at the corner of Front and Main streets, will be called “Rarey’s Port.” The second building, at the corner of College and Main streets, will be named “Wert’s Grove.” Wert’s Grove and Rarey’s Port were the names of the two original settlements that formed side-by-side, separated by College Street, in the early 1800s that eventually merged to become the village of Groveport in 1847.
The Wert’s Grove building will be about 12,234 square feet: 6,056 on the first floor and 6,178 on the second floor. The first floor will have five separate storefronts with the interior space divisible according to space requirements for potential new businesses. Second floor space for now will be open. Parking for 67 vehicles will be in the rear of the building, accessible by Raver Alley to the west and Hickory Alley to the north.
The Rarey’s Port building is tentatively planned to be 14,145 square feet, with 7,017 square feet of space on the first floor and 7,128 square feet on the second floor. The second floor space will be open for now and the first floor have six individual storefronts facing Main Street and the interior space divisible as required. Parking will be in the city’s 92 space municipal lot behind the building and near Ace Hardware. Patio space is planned for both buildings.
The estimated cost for the two Renaissance Revival style structures combined will be approximately $6 million and city officials said it will be funded with bonds. The city will be the developer for both sites.
Assistant City Administrator and Development Director Jeff Green said the projected timeline that city officials are discussing with prospective tenants is late-spring/early summer of 2021.
According to Green, the project addresses the community’s desire for new space in the downtown suitable for restaurants, retail, and other commercial development.
City Administrator B.J. King said, “With the city acting as its own developer of these two properties and owning the buildings, it eliminates the motivation for profit and allows us to be more flexible in our lease negotiations. This flexibility reduces the cost and risk for a restaurant or retail store considering locating in the downtown.
Citizen reactions to the project
•Christine Boucher: “I’m thrilled to see the long anticipated business development come to Groveport. If I have any concerns at all it is about the residents living in close proximity to the ‘Wert’s Grove’ building location with increased noise around them and how the parking will be planned around that building. But, I know that, just like with the Ace Hardware location and the fencing around the residential spaces in the area, the city has already taken all of this into consideration.”
•Christine Brock: “My spouse and I recently discussed this and we have differing concerns. I’m concerned about empty developments, considering the number of small businesses going out of business lately. I definitely do not want chains downtown. I like the idea of an independent diner and a coffee/tea shop. I’d prefer the city stage the developments and focus on the corner of Main and College first since that corner is an eyesore. My spouse is concerned about additional traffic and visual noise. We both think the green space next to Ace Hardware should remain undeveloped for aesthetic and gathering purposes in our downtown area like the farmer’s market, outdoor eating with food trucks, and watching the fireworks. Downtown is walkable for us so, whatever is decided, we want it to add to building community and not draw a lot of outside traffic.”
•Anne Dillman: “I was surprised both lots were purchased for that price. I am excited to see what the city uses the land for. I think it will be a good investment in the city. I know people were worried about the traffic, but Canal Winchester has many restaurants and shops and I’ve never had an issue with finding parking and visiting there. I have lived in Groveport for 25 years and the only restaurant I frequently visit is Dairy Queen. This is a great opportunity for Groveport to grow and make people want to come and stay.”
•Marie Kujawski: “I’m sure the residents of Groveport will be extremely happy and excited to see these changes that will encourage growth and secure a thriving future for Groveport. I can’t wait to begin!”
•T.J. Mahan: “I think both buildings will be a great addition to our town! It will keep the downtown area vibrant and visually attractive. I’m looking forward to seeing what retail and dining options will be occupying these buildings.”
•Rita Manglona: “I love the plan. but I’m really just a ‘go with the flow’ type person when it comes to this type of subject. The plan has its pros and cons, but I definitely will embrace the change.”
•Brenda Watts: “Living so close to the College/Main development, it feels very personal. I was desperate for a park. I do appreciate the names of both of these developments. Naming them after previous communities that were here is nice. I would love to see historic plaques go up near each explaining that Rarey’s Port and Wert’s Grove were real places. I am grateful they decided to avoid any fast-food chain or anything with a drive-thru. So, given what could have been in contrast to what I wish could be, I am ‘okay’ with what is now planned to be.”