Right now the only thing growing on the northeast corner of Main and Front streets in downtown Groveport is grass, but village officials and a developer continue to work on redevelopment plans for the site.
At a special meeting on Dec. 3, Groveport Village Council authorized Village Administrator Jon Crusey to amend the village’s lease and development contract with Pizzuti Solutions to allow the company an additional six months to market the proposed development.
The original lease called for a six month due diligence period that allowed for a feasibility study, cost analysis, and marketing of the development, of which the feasibility study and cost analysis have been completed.
"Right now they’re (Pizzuti) trying to recruit tenants. They’ve gotten a lot of interest, but no firm commitments. It’s a tight market out there right now," said Crusey.
Plans for the site call for a potential retail/office development that includes: two, 19th century style two story brick buildings with varied storefronts, one 200 feet long and the other 100 feet long, totaling 34,280 square feet; parking in the rear in the former Ohio and Erie Canal bed, as well as some spaces on Main Street, that would accommodate 146 vehicles; and a public space at the west end of the development at Main and Front streets.
Here are the council members’ thoughts regarding the six month marketing extension and the future of the downtown redevelopment project:
•Ed Dildine: "It’s a bad time all over for the economy. We’re still a small town looking to upgrade, but it’s a great location, it just has to be marketed carefully to get the right fit. It’ll come, it will just take a little longer than Pizzuti anticipated."
•Donna Drury: "I’m disappointed it will take another six months because I know there’s a lot of interest in the community for this development. The economy has a lot to do with it. Businesses are cautious before investing in a development, but if there wasn’t interest in the site Pizzuti wouldn’t have asked for the extension. I think the end results will be satisfactory."
•Jean Ann Hilbert: "It’s the economy. Pizzuti came to us and they have money invested in the project and I know they’re working hard to develop it. The marketing extension won’t cost us anything and the rewards could be many. Patience is a virtue. Our village is a hidden gem in central Ohio."
•Ed Rarey: "Pizzuti still feels it is a marketable site, but, as I understand it, it’s tied up in locating a cornerstone restaurant for it. I feel the economy is such at the present time that few people are apt to venture into an investment like this. Right now the site is an expensive piece of green space. Our administration feels Pizzuti is working hard to develop the site so our only option could be to wait and see at this point. It’s like fishing, Pizzuti keeps casting away but getting no bites. In due time the site will be developed, but as what I don’t know."
•Jan Stoots: "With the economy the way it is I’m not surprised Pizzuti needs more time to find an anchor store or restaurant for the development. But, if it goes past six months and we still don’t have anything, I"ll be concerned. We may have to develop a Plan B."
•Jim Staebler was not present at the Dec. 3 meeting.
On Nov. 27, 2006 council originally authorized the agreement seeking to lease the property extending from the northeast corner of Main and Front streets to Pizzuti Solutions.
However, at its May 14 meeting, council approved an ordinance to amend the lease agreement. Those amendments took into account two factors:
•the environmental concerns raised by soil testing; and
•delays in transferring the Ohio and Erie Canal lands from the state of Ohio to Groveport.
The lease agreement was amended to include wording that the village is responsible for the cost of any remediation as a result of the environmental problems. The timeline for the minimum development requirements for the developer was also extended to allow for the time involved with the soil testing and land transfer from the state.
The village originally purchased the land extending east from the intersection of Main and Front streets for the following amounts: former Sunoco property, $104,569 in 2002; former Marathon property, $70,022 in 2004; and former pizza shop property, $130,470 in 2003.
In 2005, the village also purchased the properties on the south side of Main Street across from Town Hall for $235,000. The 19th century era buildings on this site at 651, 653, and 657 Main Street were razed in 2006 because the cost to rehabilitate them was estimated at $360,000.
According to Finance Director Ken Salak, the village has spent $42,466 thus far for the first two stages of redevelopment planning for the downtown. The third stage, which involves marketing the development plan, has an estimated cost of $20,205.
Crusey said the Pizzuti project is Phase I of the village’s plans to develop its historic downtown. Phase II would involve redeveloping the site on the south side of Main Street across from Town Hall where the two buildings were demolished.