City gets redevelopment project moving

The Grove City administration is trying to kick the Town Center redevelopment plan into high gear.

One major piece of the redevelopment is the old lumberyard site, which sits behind City Hall. At the Dec. 1 meeting, Grove City Council heard an update from the site developers.

Mo Dion, from Stonehenge, said the company has been working with the city for over two years on the 3.25 acres of property. He said the goal is to improve the image and value of downtown Grove City.

"We want to attract people and create white collar jobs," said Dion.

The planner proposed that the city construct a 240-space parking garage and a three-story building. Dion said possibilities for the building include the library, a conference center, business and office space and higher education facilities.

Dion said the project could continue if the relocation of the Grove City Library branch was a no-go. Mayor Ike Stage said moving the library into the site is "key" to the redevelopment.

Stage explained that he envisions the library at its new site. He said the space could also house a community center with town homes around the perimeter. Stage suggested that council set aside funds for the 240-space parking garage.

"When the building goes up, we’re going to need places to park," said the mayor, who also emphasized that there would still be on-street parking.

Dion said the redevelopment project is similar to the one Stonehenge worked on for Creekside in Gahanna. The architecture of the structures would be consistent with what is already in the Town Center.

"We have stayed true to the city’s guidelines," said Dion. "The project is at an optimal design state."

Dion also addressed the need for more public space in the downtown area. He suggested adding an amphitheater and stage for bands and other entertainment. The plan suggests that there would be ample space for outdoor seating and dining with water fountains and public artwork. The company even suggested a water wall that comes from a community in New York City.

Stage explained that the city and Stonehenge are trying to structure the project, but some concepts are still being developed.

Stage said there are three pieces to this redevelopment project: the Town Center, the lumberyard site and funding. He explained that the city will have a capital budget of $5.5 million and some of that will be used for the redevelopment project.

"Let’s get it going," Stage said.

At the meeting, council reviewed an ordinance to expand the Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) around the Town Center. The CRA for the area was adopted in July 1987. The ordinance to expand it would encourage development and offer tax incentives to existing property owners and new developers. According to city documents, the result of the CRA expansion would mean increased commerce, higher property values and improved neighborhood quality.

Council is expected to vote on the measure at the Dec. 15 meeting.

Stage explained that the city would fund the redevelopment with cash, bonds and private investing.

"We can make this work," he said.

Stage also explained that there are three colleges interested in higher education branches. They include Ashland University, The Ohio State University and Columbus State Community College. He wants to see the college branches up and running by the fall of 2010.

Council President Ted Berry said council would review a proposal to allocate funding for the parking garage at the next council meeting. He also said council would need to approve a general plan soon to get the project rolling.

"This is important to keep our downtown alive," said Berry.

Council will discuss the redevelopment further at the Dec. 15 meeting at 8 p.m. at City Hall.

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