At the Southwest Columbus Area Commission meeting on Sept. 19, a Columbus City official confirmed what township residents had suspected – the city plans to annex Cooper Stadium.
Boyce Safford III, Director of Development for Columbus, said that the city does not “go out and take land from townships.”
Instead, the city accepts land that the property owners request them to annex.
In the case of Cooper Stadium, the property owner is Franklin County.
Safford said the county approached the city to annex the property because necessary infrastructure improvements were too big for the county to handle.
Hanna Greer, Public Information Officer for the Franklin County Commissioners said, “Currently intergovernmental discussions between the county and both the city and the township are in the process on how to best utilize the site to create and retain the most number of jobs.”
Franklin Township Trustee Don Cook said that the city and the county did not notify the township that they planned to annex the stadium, just as they did not discuss moving the Clippers to the Arena District of Columbus.
“The Franklinton community was involved in the grass roots committee for site redevelopment and was well represented on the Cooper Alternative Plan (CAP) committee,” Greer said. “The ultimate decision to move the team was made to strengthen the organization in the long-run and has created a second opportunity to create good jobs for the community.”
The county is “actively receiving proposals” from businesses planning to develop the site, Greer said.
Bill Althoff of A.D. Farrow Co. contacted the county with plans to develop the land into a motorcycle destination with a racetrack, hotel and a museum, Cook said.
Althoff withdrew his plan because the county informed him that the city planned to annex the property, Cook said.
Greer confirmed that Althoff withdrew his proposal, but could not speak as to his reasons. At press time, Althoff could not be reached for comment.