Town Center plan finally underway

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Development in Grove City’s Town Center has been at a lull but now a plan is in process.

About 75 area business owners and residents attended the Town Center kick-off meeting on Feb. 21 at Park Street Intermediate School – a turnout Mayor Ike Stage was proud of.

"It shows the people are passionate about Grove City and passionate about our Town Center," he remarked.

Stage explained that he and city officials want to recreate the Town Center as a major point of destination for residents and transients.

In December, Grove City Council approved a measure to set aside $130,450 for the architect and planning firm of Lincoln Street Studio to develop the plan. Frank Elmer, from Lincoln Street Studio was at the kick-off meeting to update residents on what to expect.

"We have been working on this plan since mid January," Elmer said. "I think we’re making good progress."

First the company wants to get an assessment of business vitality. This step will involve contacting business owners and property owners currently in the downtown area.

Representatives from Lincoln Street Studio plan to interview each business owner in the Town Center. They want to determine what business already exists and what people familiar with the area want to see next door. Elmer explained that they should be contacted throughout March.

The company is also examining the land use.

"We did a Town Center plan 20 years ago when there was nothing there," said Elmer. "There are trends at work today that did not exist 20 years ago."

One of the trends include mix-use property. Elmer explained that one idea for the Town Center is to incorporate new housing units into the area, along with other small businesses.

"We will look at some barriers for redevelopment like utilities and land use incompatibility," said Elmer.

Elmer explained that over the next nine months, his firm would also review land viewed "complimentary" to the Town Center like the old Hadler Center and the area near Beulah Park.

The Stonehenge Company has delayed plans to develop the lumberyard site in downtown Grove City so the city could get their overall plan in motion. Elmer said Lincoln Street Studio and Stonehenge will work in collaboration to make the Town Center thrive.

"This can be a win-win situation for everyone," said Elmer.

When asked about the cost of this project, Elmer said his company is working with the city to "define sources of grants."

He added, "You are very fortunate to have a city willing to spend city dollars to improve that area. Many cities do not do this."

Elmer said his company is fielding calls and e-mails from the community as to what they want to see downtown. He invites anyone with ideas, questions or concerns to e-mail Lincoln Street Studio at lincolnstreet.com but asks residents to be patient.

"Bare with us; this will work," said Elmer. "I’m sure we will stub our toes in the process but the end result will be worth it."

City officials and Lincoln Street Studio will plan another public hearing as the project moves forward. City council will also hold two work sessions to discuss the project development. The dates have not yet been determined.

"We did it (developed the Town Center) 20 years ago and we can do it better and bigger this time," said Stage.

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