Development agreement could help CW Schools

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

A community reinvestment area agreement between the city of Canal Winchester, Canal Winchester Schools, and a nationwide company with plans to develop land west of the Winchester Square shopping center could channel additional funds into school coffers.

During a March 18 meeting, the Canal Winchester Board of Education approved the CRA school compensation agreement in which the Opus Development Company agrees to pay the district $40,000 per year for 15 years in exchange for a 100 percent tax exemption on the value of improvements.

In exchange for the exemption, the developer committed to constructing 800,000 square feet in one or more industrial buildings on the site with an approximate building value of $22.25 million. OPUS also agrees to create no less than 80 jobs with a payroll of no less than $2.4 million per year.

The school district will receive 25 percent of income taxes generated on site up to the amount they would have received from the properties—estimated at $268,000 per year—but for the abatement.

Beginning in year four, the developer agrees to pay a supplement payment in lieu of taxes, ensuring the school receives no less than $100,000 per year. This payment would kick in from Opus if the total payroll on the site is less than $12.0 million, which would generate $60,000 per year in income tax share payments from the city to Canal Winchester Schools.

The district will also continue to receive tax dollars on the value of the land, estimated at $40,000 per year.

According to Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire, Canal Winchester City Council now needs to approve the CRA and agreement with the schools. Rezoning for the site was tabled at a third reading and on hold until May 20.

The city held a public hearing in December for a request by OPUS to amend city code rezoning 69 acres on the north side of Winchester Boulevard near Kroger from exceptional use to limited manufacturing.

According to company vice president and general manager Douglas Swain, OPUS wants to construct a pair of large-scale buildings on a speculation basis. Swain said access and proximity to U.S. 33, along with a good labor force and location amenities are attractive.

“We like it (location) for a combination of all that,” Swain said in December. “We like the ease of doing business here.”

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