By Dustin Ensinger
Two areas in Reynoldsburg Mayor Brad McCloud calls “engines of the local economy” have experienced some revitalization in the past year.
The two main economic sectors of the city – Olde Reynoldsburg and the Brice Road-Livingston Avenue corridor – have both seen an influx of new businesses in recent months.
Brice Road/Livingston Avenue
In August, Big Lots opened a prototype store at 6300 Livingston Ave., the former site of a Big Bear. The 100,000-square-foot building sat empty for more than 10 years before Big Lots occupied half the space. The company is in negotiations to sublease the remainder of the building, according to McCloud.
Just down the street, in the 6500 block of East Livingston Avenue at the Blacklick Plaza Shopping Center, owner E.V. Bischoff Co. is seeking additional tenants to add to the lineup of restaurants that already include the only pure vegan establishment in the area. The company also purchased the adjacent former Dairy Queen building.
“We have very little undeveloped space in the city of Reynoldsburg,” said McCloud. “Our challenge is redevelopment.”
To meet that challenge, the city has invested millions of dollars into the area in recent years. Reynoldsburg was recently awarded $3.8 million in funding by the Ohio Public Works Commission to make improvements to East Livingston Avenue between Brice Road and Graham Road. When the project is completed in 2016, the city will have made just under $9 million worth of infrastructure improvements to the area since 2014.
“Down in that area we just didn’t have a lot of good infrastructure for things to be possible,” said Service Director Nathan Burd of the improvements.
The city has also sought to improve safety and walkability in the area by adding crosswalks, tripling the number of street lights and boosting the police presence to reduce crime.
“We want to continue to demonstrate that that is a functional, viable part of the city and help it continue to grow,” said McCloud.
Olde Reynoldsburg/East Main Street
In the Olde Reynoldsburg area, Prost Beer & Wine Cafe recently opened at 7354 E. Main St. along with Vick’s Gourmet Pizza at 7333 E. Main St., the site of the former Connell Hardware building.
The city has also taken steps to spur development in its historic area. One of the major challenges to that goal has been a lack of parking in the area, according to Development Director Dan Havener.
To fix the problem, the city recently purchased a piece of property that will be turned into a 24-space parking lot. Officials will also be considering a realignment of east and westbound traffic on East Main Street to accommodate more on-street parking.
To improve safety in the area, the city also plans to consider a reduced speed limit in the area of 25 mph, down from the current speed limit of 35 mph, Havener said.
Striving to fulfill potential
While both areas present their own set of challenges and unique opportunities – small businesses and parking in Olde Reynoldsburg and large retailers and crime and walkability in the Brice Road-Livingston Avenue corridor – city officials say they are committed to bringing more business to both sections of the city.
But city officials say it will take an effort from the whole community to bring both areas to their full potential.
“Many challenges remain, however, we hope to make significant advancements regarding these issues in 2015,” Havener said. “Commercial-retail development will continue to be a main priority for the future development of Reynoldsburg, as we continue to invest in the infrastructure of both areas. To promote existing businesses, as well as future development in these areas, all parties must be vested in the area.”