Plaza plan proposed

By Andrea Cordle
Southwest Editor

Strides have been made in redeveloping downtown Grove City and the momentum continues.

A few weeks ago, the new Grove City Library opened at Broadway and Grant Avenue. Another notable development was that Pat Kelley, of Falco, Smith and Kelley purchased the Beulah Park property from Penn National.

Now, city leaders are looking at ways to tie the Town Center into the Beulah Park area. One idea presented at the Oct. 24 special council meeting, was a Town Center plaza.

According to Mike Keller, of the EMH&T engineering firm, the goal of the plaza is to physically connect the Town Center to the Beulah Park property, as well as provide a public use space that promotes further economic development.

“We have a gem with the library, so how do we build from that,” said Keller.
Keller presented three design concepts for a plaza that would be located west of the planned Columbus Street extension, near the railroad crossing.

One concept includes a traffic circle that would allow vehicular traffic to flow through the area while pedestrians and bicyclists have ample space. This concept would cost an estimated $1.85 million to construct. That cost does not include land acquisition. Keller said the city would need to purchase 12 parcels of land for this option.

Another concept is a central park option that would be similar to the traffic circle, but more calming for vehicular traffic. This option would cost $1.9 million to construct and the city would need 13 parcels.

The third concept presented was a shared street option that eliminates curbs and narrows the street, but opens the plaza space. Keller said it would put more of an emphasis on pedestrians and bicycles, with less of an emphasis on vehicular traffic. This option would cost $1.65 million to construct. The city would need 11 parcels of property.

Keller said he is discussing the idea with the railroad company and hopes to have an agreement on the crossing with them early next year.

According to Keller, the total project is estimated to cost anywhere from $5.3 million to $7.8 million.

Some council members were all for the plan of a Town Center plaza, while others were more hesitant.

Councilman Steve Bennett said he likes the idea, but said the focus needs to be on business growth.

“If we are going to have people out, walking around, we have to give them somewhere to go,” said Bennett.

Councilwoman Laura Lanese said she is wary of making plans for a public plaza when city leaders do not yet know what will happen to the the Beulah Park area.

“I’m concerned about putting the cart before the horse,” she said.

Pat Kelley said the city and his company are aligned on goals for development.

He plans a mixed-use development that would include apartments, condominiums and single family homes. Kelley also wants to include neighborhood office space and an open, gathering space.

“We are anxious to get going on a development plan,” said Kelley.

When asked about the plaza project timeline, City Administrator Chuck Boso said it is hard to tell.

“We need to look at how much this is going to cost and how we are going to pay for it,” said Boso. “We need to get into the crux of negotiations with the Kelley Group.”

Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said the city has invested $24 million in redevelopment on the east side of the railroad tracks.

‘The free market has to help us out,” said Stage.

Councilman Ted Berry said he believes this public plaza is key to economic development and they have to do it right, but be aggressive.

“We need to know the cost and other specifics, but I don’t want the process to slow down,” he said. “Let’s not drag this on for six months or more.”

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