Groveport’s Main Street plan embraces past and future


By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Images courtesy of the city of Groveport
The proposed “Rarey’s Port” building to be located at the northeast corner of Main and Front streets.

For years, Groveport residents clamored to see some enhanced business development along Main Street and now progress is being made to make that happen.

On Aug. 24, Groveport City Council approved legislation authorizing City Administrator B. J. King to enter into an agreement with Miller Valentine Group at a cost of $153,870 for Phase 2 planning for the redevelopment of two vacant, city-owned parcels in downtown Groveport. This follows the first phase, which began earlier this year, that included the creation of conceptual designs and preliminary cost estimates for two new mixed-use buildings: one to be located at the northeast corner of Front and Main streets next to Ace Hardware; and the second at the northwest corner of College and Main streets. The city will be the developer for both sites.

The proposed “Wert’s Grove” building to be located on the northwest corner of Main and College streets.

Assistant City Administrator and Development Director Jeff Green said the projected timeline that city officials are discussing with prospective tenants is late-spring/early summer of 2021.

“We are in discussions with three businesses, all restaurants,” said Green. “Two for the (Main and College streets) building and one for the (Main and Front streets) building. The expectation is they would seek occupancy immediately upon completion.”

According to Green, the project, named “1847 Main” in reference to the year Groveport was incorporated as a town, addresses the community’s desire for new space in the downtown suitable for restaurants, retail, and other commercial development.

“For years it has been a challenge to effectively recruit new businesses to the downtown because we lacked the available commercial space,” Green said. “In addition, many would-be businesses emerging from the city’s small business training programs had difficulty finding space to establish their business start-up.”

King added, “With the city acting as its own developer of these two properties and owning the buildings, it eliminates the motivation for profit and allows us to be more flexible in our lease negotiations.”

King said this flexibility reduces the cost and risk for a restaurant or retail store considering locating in the downtown.

The 1847 Main plan
The plan calls for construction of two, two-story brick buildings. The first building at 674-716 Main St., at the corner of Front and Main streets, will be called “Rarey’s Port.” The second building, at the corner of College and Main streets, will be named “Wert’s Grove.”

Wert’s Grove and Rarey’s Port were the names of the two original settlements that formed side-by-side, separated by College Street, in the early 1800s that eventually merged to become the village of Groveport in 1847.

The Wert’s Grove building will be about 12,234 square feet: 6,056 on the first floor and 6,178 on the second floor. The first floor will have five separate storefronts with the interior space divisible according to space requirements for potential new businesses. Second floor space for now will be open. Parking for 67 vehicles will be in the rear of the building, accessible by Raver Alley to the west and Hickory Alley to the north.

The Rarey’s Port building is tentatively planned to be 14,145 square feet, with 7,017 square feet of space on the first floor and 7,128 square feet on the second floor. The second floor space will be open for now and the first floor have six individual storefronts facing Main Street and the interior space divisible as required. Parking will be in the city’s 92 space municipal lot behind the building and near Ace Hardware. Patio space is planned for both buildings.

The estimated cost for the two structures combined will be approximately $6 million and city officials said it will be funded with bonds.

Green said the architectural style of the two buildings is, “Probably best described as Renaissance Revival, which was a predominant style for commercial architecture in the late 19th and early-20th century. Our objective was to create a look that was organic to the rest of Main Street.”

The city’s preconstruction agreement with Miller Valentine Group includes preliminary design, including prospective tenant finishes for both buildings. The city is in discussions with three businesses: two for the Wert’s Grove building and one for the Rarey’s Port building. City officials hope to have leases negotiated and signed prior to Phase 3, which will include creation of all construction documents, zoning approvals, permits, etc.

In 2018, the city and the Groveport Community Improvement Corporation, working with Downtown Professionals Network of Franklin, Tenn., and Arnett Muldrow of Greenville, S.C., completed a comprehensive market analysis and a marketing strategy for the downtown. Branding the city’s central business district “Historic Downtown Groveport,” the strategy includes new district signage, downtown events and activities, advertising and business recruitment activities and small business development.

Council and mayor’s reactions
•Mayor Lance Westcamp: “Groveport can sit around and wait for development or we can take the bull by the horns and get it done ourselves. I think taking a more entrepreneurial approach is best in the long run for the city.”

•Councilman Shawn Cleary: “This is a new adventure for Groveport. We listened to the residents and this has been a long time coming. But, as we move forward, I hope we move cautiously because, remember, in these current economic times, we have to be very careful.”

•Councilman Ed Dildine: “This is an exciting time. This will be the largest development in the downtown. Residents will love our ‘new’ downtown. We will provide new opportunities for our community with places to shop and eat and a place for new businesses to shine. This is a project the whole community can get behind and show the support we all know Groveport can do. The tie-in to our past is an awesome way to never forget our heritage.”

•Councilman Chad Grashel: “This project is the right move to grow economic activity in our downtown – while simultaneously celebrating our history. I hope the residents are as excited as we are with what’s to come.”

•Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert: “I’m so proud council voted to move ahead with the 1847 Main Street project. We are listening to what our residents have said they want in Groveport and we are going to deliver. Thank you, Groveport, for your confidence and patience.”

•Councilwoman Becky Hutson: “I love the concept of 1847. The property at Front and Main will be a wonderful addition to that part of downtown and give a lot of opportunity for dining and business. However, the Main and College part, I’m not sure it is what the residents are looking for. It does not have the Groveport Cruiser wow factor for me. I feel the residents are looking for a stand alone diner, a real destination place for Groveport, a real small town experience, not a drive thru or a chain. Although finding such an investor for our community is a hard sale.”

•Councilman Scott Lockett: “I’m excited about the 1847 Main Street project. For some time now the residents expressed their desire to have downtown Groveport developed in some manner. The city has made significant efforts to accomplish this. It is my belief the city must take the lead to make this happen. Our residents will be pleased with this project and the types of businesses it will attract.”

Main Street development timeline
For approximately the last 18 years, Groveport city officials took steps to re-develop the city’s historic downtown core along Main Street. The following is a timeline of what has transpired.

•2002 – The city bought the two former gas station properties at the northeast corner of Main and Front streets for $305,000. The city’s public works department demolished the structures.

•2004 – The city purchased the former ceramics shop and doctors’ offices at 716 and 728 Main Streets for $230,000. The buildings are demolished at a cost of $7,300.

•2005 – The city purchased properties at 651, 653, and 657 Main St. for $235,000.

•2006 – The city demolished the buildings at 651, 653, and 657 Main St. at a cost of $16,500 after it was determined it would cost $360,000 to rehabilitate the structures.

•2013 – The owners of the business at 649 Main St. purchased the 651, 653, 657 Main St. parcels from the city for $13,000 for possible expansion of their business sometime in the future. City officials indicate that currently the city has received no word on when the business owner will develop this site.

•2013 – Plans are made to build the Ace Hardware store at 726 Main St.

•2013 – The city budgeted $1 million to construct the large municipal parking lot, sidewalks, bike path, and landscaping near the Ace Hardware and the undeveloped grassy site extending from the northeast corner of Main and Front streets.

•2015 – Ace Hardware opened at 726 Main St.
•Various plans and proposals were made over the years to develop a “Groveport Town Center” project on the grassy area extending from the northeast corner of Main and Front streets, but as of yet no project for this site has been confirmed. In the mean time, the site is being used for the city’s annual summer farmers’ market.

•2018 – The city purchased the former used car lot property at 490 Main St. (the .492 acre property on the northwest corner of Main and College streets) for $250,000. Signage is erected to market the site for business development.

•2019 – The city’s contract with the owners of Ace Hardware to develop the grassy site on the northeast corner of Main and Front streets expires.

•2020 – The city purchases the property at 480 Main St. for $150,000 to expand development opportunities with the adjacent lot at 490 Main St. on the northwest corner of Main and College streets.

•2020 – In the city’s 2020 budget, council approved a Phase 1 environmental study and an architectural study for the city owned property on the northwest corner of Main and College streets at a cost of $25,000. Also in the budget, the city’s Community Improvement Corporation is slated to receive $25,000 to aid in the search for downtown business development.

•2020 – The 1847 Main project is unveiled.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.