Sluggish economy stalls Groveport project

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The vacant land at Main and Front streets in downtown Groveport remains a grassy spot as village officials and a developer continue to seek tenants for a planned business development.

"The (sluggish) economy is not helping the project," Groveport Development Director Jeff Green told Groveport Village Council at its Jan. 28 meeting.

Green said the developer, Pizzuti Solutions, has been presenting the project at trade shows and following up on leads in an effort to garner tenants for the site.

"They’re still confident," said Green of Pizzuti.

Plans for the site call for a potential retail/office development that includes: two, 19th century style two story brick buildings with varied storefronts, one 200 feet long and the other 100 feet long, totaling 34,280 square feet; parking in the rear in the former Ohio and Erie Canal bed, as well as some spaces on Main Street, that would accommodate 146 vehicles; and a public space at the west end of the development at Main and Front streets.

On Dec. 3, council amended the village’s lease and development contract with Pizzuti Solutions to allow the company an additional six months to market the proposed development.The original lease called for a six month due diligence period that allowed for a feasibility study, cost analysis, and marketing of the development, of which the feasibility study and cost analysis have been completed.

Council viewpoints on the project

Following the meeting, council members weighed in on the state of the project and most blamed the condition of the nation’s economy as the culprit in hindering the development.

•Councilman Shawn Cleary: "Nothing’s moving right now due to the economy."

•Councilman Ed Dildine: "The economy is partly our enemy. We’ll ride this wave out though and the site will get developed."

•Councilwoman Donna Drury: "It’s encouraging that Pizzuti is still positive about the project."

•Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert: "It’s a wait and see situation. The economy is just bad right now."

•Mayor Lance Westcamp: "We’re still hoping it develops. It all depends on the economy."

Councilman Ed Rarey did not wish to comment on the situation and Councilman Jim Staebler was not present at the meeting.

The numbers

The village first purchased the land extending east from the intersection of Main and Front streets for the following amounts: former Sunoco property, $104,569 in 2002; former Marathon property, $70,022 in 2004; and former pizza shop property, $130,470 in 2003.

In 2005, the village also purchased the properties on the south side of Main Street across from Town Hall for $235,000. The 19th century era buildings on this site at 651, 653, and 657 Main Street were razed in 2006 because the cost to rehabilitate them was  estimated at $360,000.

The village has spent $42,466 thus far for the first two stages of redevelopment planning for the downtown. The third stage, which involves marketing the development plan, has an estimated cost of $20,205.

Village officials said the Pizzuti project is Phase I of the village’s plans to develop its historic downtown. Phase II would involve redeveloping the site on the south side of Main Street across from Town Hall where the two buildings were demolished.

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