Reynoldsburgs new development director a familiar face

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Lucas Haire, Reynoldsburg’s new development director, has worked for the city since 2006. He plans to focus on redeveloping the community’s existing commercial areas, including Brice Road, as well as promoting new projects.

Lucas Haire, Reynoldsburg’s new development director recognizes the city has many strengths when it comes to development – but the city’s real challenge will be redeveloping and reinvigorating the city’s existing commercial corridors.

He took over as development director after the retirement of John Brandt.

Haire, who received a bachelor’s degree in geography with a minor in city and regional planning from Ohio State University in 2002, was hired in May 2006 as the city’s planning administrator.

Mayor Brad McCloud said when it was time to select a development director, he considered several outside candidates as well as Haire, the only current employee considered for the position.

"Mr. Haire has a strong knowledge and understanding of both development and marketing," commented McCloud. "He also has a wealth of institutional knowledge that will be a real benefit to the city."

Haire, who is also completing coursework toward a master’s degree in public policy and management from OSU, also worked with the Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Department as well as the Licking County Planning Commission before coming to Reynoldsburg.

The Mt. Vernon native now resides in Columbus in Olde Town East and enjoys international travel, playing basketball, cooking and gardening.

New retail development

Reynoldsburg’s retail development is booming, with new commercial businesses opening on an almost weekly basis. A new Olive Garden restaurant opened last week, a 170,000-square-foot Lowe’s Home Improvement store opened last month, and ground has been broken for a new Target store scheduled to open in 2009.

"Overall, Reynoldsburg is doing very well compared to the region," Haire noted. "We have a good, strong retail base."

That is likely because one of Reynoldsburg’s biggest development strengths is its location, with easy access to I-70, I-270 and S.R. 256.

Not only are Reynoldsburg residents patronizing the businesses, Haire noted, but customers and employees are coming from all over eastern Franklin County, as well as from Licking County.

"Taylor Square – there are probably close to 2,000 people employed in those different businesses," he said. "That helps the Reynoldsburg economy – it’s bringing people from all over."

The S.R. 256 corridor continues to attract new businesses, and a new retail development, the Shoppes on Broad Street, is underway now that Lowe’s (the anchor store) is open.

"That project overall is about 450,000 square feet of retail space," Haire pointed out.

Other businesses headed for the Shoppes on Broad Street include Aldi, National City Bank, Burger King and Chase Bank. A retail center will also be located next to Lowe’s, although details are yet to be finalized on that.

Haire pointed out that the city spent a lot of time working with the Shoppes on Broad Street to make sure the buildings were nice looking and an asset to the community.

"They are held to a higher standard than the other side of the street, which is Columbus," Haire pointed out.

Revitalization

Reynoldsburg has just about run out of room for new development, and will have to focus on revamping existing areas, according to Haire.

"The properties that are currently being developed are the last large parcels in Reynoldsburg," Haire commented. "A lot of the development over the next 10 years will be redevelopment."

Reynoldsburg recently revitalized its Main Street, which is attracting several new businesses to the community. With that project complete, Haire expects to focus much of his efforts on the Brice Road area in the future.

"What is going on in Brice Road is definitely a challenge for Reynoldsburg," he said, asking residents to take a closer look at the businesses on the Reynoldsburg side of the busy street. "The Reynoldsburg side of Brice Road is actually very strong."

He pointed out that a Subway restaurant recently moved from the Columbus side of the street to the Reynoldsburg side, and said the owner is thrilled with the results.

Regarding Brice Road, Haire said, "Yes, it is challenging, but yes, it is strong. There’s some investment going on. With the traffic counts, there is definitely a good market there."

One of his first steps will be creating an area plan to find out how the Brice Road area can be better utilized and developed, and code compliance officers are already cracking down "to really emphasize these are properties that are cared about."

He expects changes to follow after the former Big Bear building at Brice and Livingston roads is soon converted to an indoor, climate-controlled storage facility.

"The exterior of the building will not change at all," Haire noted. Other outbuildings for the site are also in the works.

Haire said although he has jumped in to the development director position headfirst, he wants to have a carefully calculated plan for development in the city of Reynoldsburg.

Haire has already begun working on design guidelines and a comprehensive development plan for the city.

"That goes along with the streetscape project – that’s where that started," he said. "It makes it clear for the developer upfront. It speeds up the process and makes it less arbitrary."

That comprehensive plan will be the key to sensible development in the city, Haire  noted."I want to have a plan for the future and how to best utilize the land that we do have," he said. "There are a lot of opportunities here."

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