By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport city officials see the open green space at the northeast corner of Main in Front streets as an important piece for development in the historic downtown.
“The site is a primary open site for the downtown area,” said Groveport City Administrator Marsha Hall. “There are a few types of services, such as restaurants, that, when developed, can spur additional development in the downtown area.”
Hall said the city’s Community Investment Corporation (CIC) recently received two proposals for a retail market analysis and marketing strategy. She said the CIC board will meet soon to select the firm to complete the analysis, with an emphasis on the site, which measures a little over a third of an acre.
The city owns the site, but it is leased to Rick Foreman of Ace Hardware. City officials have previously stated the preferred uses of the site are for restaurants and/or retail. The city has had discussions in the past regarding potential businesses for the site, but nothing concrete has been decided upon.
Speaking last fall, Groveport Finance Director Jeff Green said developing the site is a benefit to the community because it would create “more mass in the downtown and provide new space for new businesses.”
The site has been open for several years and, when asked what factors are involved in attracting a business to the site, Green stated, “One is demographics. Large restaurant chains typically count rooftops as a measure of market viability. Obviously, with a little over 1,500 rooftops, we might not be as appealing to many large chains. This ignores the huge jump in daytime population the city experiences every day and the number of people who commute here for work and are often leaving the community to find places to eat lunch. That’s why we’re more suited to a smaller, more regional chain that understands the entire central Ohio market.”
Green added that a second factor is the cost of the space.
“Since it is new construction and will be finished to the tenant’s specifications, it will be more expensive than an older existing space elsewhere in the downtown area,” said Green.
City officials said there are no plans to expand the nearby parking lot or leave the site open permanently.
Last year the site was used for the city’s successful Farmers’ Market and the plan is to hold the market there again this year on Tuesdays from May 29 to the end of September from 5-8 p.m.
“We are working on that right now,” said Hall, who added final details about this year’s market and its features will be released once they are finalized.
Hall said there are no other temporary uses, other than the Farmers’ Market, being considered for the site.
When the site is eventually developed, the city plans to retain a small, approximately .15 acre, portion of the property at the immediate corner of Front and Main streets for a pocket park.