Groveport looks to grow small business in its downtown

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By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Rarey’s Port building.

Now that some restaurants are on board for the two new commercial buildings planned for downtown Groveport, city officials are considering using some space in those structures to nurture new, home grown businesses.

The proposal is to use the second floors of the Wert’s Grove building, 480 Main St., and the Rarey’s Port building, 674 Main St., as “business incubators” in an entrepreneurship program.

“People have ideas for new businesses, but they may not know how to get started,” said Groveport City Councilman Scott Lockett. “Here they can learn how to go about getting started and then grow their businesses.”

Added Councilman Ed Dildine, “I don’t see too many other communities being able to do what we can do with these two buildings. Starting a business is a big investment.”

At Groveport City Council’s June 28 meeting, Matt Yerkes, executive director of Cultivate (which provides educational and advising support to small and emerging businesses), laid out a business incubator proposal for council’s consideration. Cultivate proposes to implement an entrepreneurship support program that includes workshops, e-learning, advising sessions, and referrals for potential small businesses.

Wert’s Grove building.

If council accepts the proposal, the city would pay Cultivate $50,000 annually for three years starting in September, as well as $1,500 a month for the Wert’s Grove building and $1,000 per month for the Rarey’s Port building for facility and member management. In return, the city would receive $1,500 per month in rent for the Rarey’s Port building spaces.

“This program is for people who are trying to start a business,” said Yerkes. “They may need an office, a desk, a cubicle, meeting room access, or just a business mailing address.”

Yerkes said the Wert’s Grove building space would serve as the business incubator for those who need start-up or operational office space for their businesses. He said the Rarey’s Port building space would be organized into seven large professional retail suites for businesses like realtors, title companies, or insurance.

Groveport Economic Development Director Jeff Green said the business incubator proposal “reflects the realities of today.”

In addition to this proposal, Green said the city will also continue to pursue larger industrial development, enhancing business opportunities in the Kroger plaza on west Main Street, and create more opportunities for historic downtown development that could include entertainment options or the consideration of a DORA, which is a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area that is an area in a downtown or mixed-use location where people age 21 and up may purchase alcoholic beverages from approved restaurants and take their drinks outside and within the DORA limits.

The eateries
In early June businesses, three restaurants signed up to occupy the lower levels of the Wert’s Grove and Rarey’s Port buildings. They include: Delaney’s Diner – a breakfast, lunch, brunch restaurant that will occupy 4,000 square feet of space with a patio on the west end of the Rarey’s Port building; Preston’s: A Burger Joint and Honey’s Fried Chicken, which will occupy a little under 3,000 square feet on the west end of the Wert’s Grove building; and Mmelo Confectionary & Café – a high-end chocolates and confections place that also offers breads and pastries, a full lunch and dinner menu, and made to order specialties, coffee and espresso – will occupy around 2,300 square feet, plus patio, on the east end of the Wert’s Grove building.

About the 1847 Main project
The Rarey’s Port and Wert’s Grove buildings are a project known as The 1847 Main Project and the city of Groveport is the developer for both sites.

Construction on the 14,145 square foot Rarey’s Port building, to be located the northeast corner of Front and Main streets next to Ace Hardware, is set to begin the last week of July with completion expected by late March 2022. Construction of the 12,184 square foot Wert’s Grove building, to be located at the northwest corner of College and Main streets, will start in August with completion expected by April 2022.

“We will be holding a formal groundbreaking for the 1847 Main project on July 27,” said Green. “Construction will begin on the Rarey’s Port building on July 28 and Aug. 12 for the Wert’s Grove building.”

The two new buildings will be two-story brick, mixed-use commercial buildings.
The cost to construct the two buildings is approximately $7.6 million. It is funded by a combination of non-tax revenue bonds and tax revenue bonds. According to Groveport

Finance Director Jason Carr, non-tax revenue bonds equal taxable bonds and tax revenue bonds equal tax-exempt bonds. He said the project will be funded by general obligation bonds, which are bonds from the bond market and are not property tax bond issues that would be voted on by the residents.

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