Village leaders debate retail center


By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

Municipalities do not typically like to see vacant buildings in the community but the village of Urbancrest could be making an exception.

At the Sept. 1 meeting, G. Bradford Johnson, president of Centerpoint Development, said they are interested in building three vacant buildings along Centerpoint Drive and Harrisburg Pike to be used for future retail opportunities.

He said that he believes the location would make for an attractive location for retail or restaurant development due to its proximity to I-270, the thriving industrial area in the village, Turkey Hill and the Value Place Hotel.

“There are hundreds of employees who work along Centerpoint Drive and they all have to come right by this site,” he said.

The council seemed to agree that it could make for an attractive location, but they did express hesitation because they want to build without having tenants already in place.

“There is a storefront in Grove City near the southeast corner of Broadway that has a very low occupancy rate and it has been that way for a great length of time,” said councilman Kenneth Skeaton.

He said he is worried that this proposed location, though promising, could end up just like that one.

Johnson said the problem with that location is the lack of access to the businesses.

“The access is just too tough,” he said.

Johnson added that there is proof that this proposed site could be attractive to the public because of the established success of Turkey Hill and the early success of the Value Place Hotel.

He said the development company has spoken to the hotel property owners to gauge their interest and he said they are all for it.

“Honestly, they are rooting for us,” he said.

Skeaton asked Johnson how he envisioned the site looking and he said it all depends on who is the first to buy one of the buildings.

“The success of the location will revolve around who goes there first,” he explained.

Johnson did say that there has been some interest from national companies about that location and that he why he is confident that it will do well.

“This will cost a little over $1 million so this is a gamble with no tenants or rentals so we will work hard to find them.”

He said a 15-year tax abatement would also make the location more attractive to potential buyers.

Since this plan is in its infancy, Johnson said it may be some time before they could begin to develop the land.

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