What’s the future of Groveport’s downtown?

By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

What types of businesses would you like to see in Groveport’s historic downtown core?

Groveport city officials, through an online survey this summer, will seek opinions on the city’s downtown and about the community in general as it relates to the businesses residents would like to see in town.

“We want to collect input and local market insights from residents,” said Groveport City Administrator Marsha Hall. “ We want to know what types of downtown businesses residents are looking for, what their expectations of the downtown area are, and so forth.”

As part of the downtown study, the Groveport Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) will conduct a local market analysis, plus research the development of marketing and business recruitment strategies and branding for the city’s downtown. The CIC is working with Downtown Professionals Network of Franklin, Tenn.

According to city officials, the local retail market analysis, which the survey is part of, will cost $11,200. The city’s last market study was done in 2003, with an update in 2011. The 2003 study cost the city $3,620 and the 2011 update cost $8,200, according to Groveport Finance Director Jeff Green.

“The work being done now not only includes updating the market analysis, but also branding and the development of strategies for business/retail/restaurant recruitment,” said Green.

When asked why a new analysis is being done, Green said, “A market analysis is not a static document. For the data to be useful to businesses considering locating to our community it has to reflect current economic and market conditions. Information from 2011 likely does not accurately depict the Groveport area market or the general economy as it exists today.”

He said a good comparison is a traffic study.

“If we look at traffic counts for Groveport Road and State Route 317 from 2003 and 2011, we would see a significant increase in the numbers. Same principle applies to current market conditions,” said Green.

The new online survey
From July 27 through Aug. 13, residents from the city and the surrounding area, as well as local businesses, can participate in the new online survey.

Once the survey is in place, there will be a link on the city’s website at groveport.org. Plus, information regarding the link will be shown on the city’s Facebook page and on Twitter. Hall said the survey will be through Survey Monkey. The survey will be available both online and in paper format.

“The survey is scheduled to start July 27, however, a shorter survey with some general questions will be available at a city booth at the Fourth of July celebration,” said Hall.

According to Hall, the survey results are expected to be available to the CIC by Aug. 17. She said results of the entire study will be presented to businesses at the Mayor’s Business Breakfast in October.

“The survey results will used in developing a strategy to attract businesses to the downtown,” said Hall.

About Groveport’s downtown
Currently, Groveport’s historic downtown is a mix of schools, Groveport Town Hall, residences, existing businesses, two parking lots, and an open green space currently being used for the Groveport Farmers Market.

The downtown’s geographic layout was shaped during the town’s days as a port on the Ohio and Erie Canal. Groveport’s downtown has no traditional town square or crossroads. This is because the intersection of the Ohio and Erie Canal and Main Street in the 19th century was the crossroads of its era when the town initially developed. Wirt Road angles in to intersect with Main Street where the canal once passed through town.

When asked what problems the historic downtown’s unique geographic layout shaped from its canal days presents for commercial development, Hall said, “The geographic layout is a challenge due to the lack of density in downtown businesses. There’s no core to the area.”

The development of the downtown also faces other challenges.

“While the city’s residential population is small, the population is actually much larger when area businesses are included,” said Hall. “Most businesses are attracted based on residential population. We must find a way around this.”

Past study results
According to Green, the 2011 study updated the 2003 report, which defined the local market characteristics and outlined areas of opportunity or potential focus.

“Obviously, the attraction of more retail and eating establishments was at the top of the list,” said Green.

Those previous reports offered the following recommendations:

•Continue to build on Groveport’s brand as Central Ohio’s Hometown by encouraging high quality design, development and construction that will last; targeting sites in the historic downtown district for redevelopment; and emphasizing the community’s heritage, special features, and quality of life amenities.

•Developing and adapting a regional tourism approach and strategy to promote Groveport – Central Ohio’s Hometown – as a Columbus metro “escape” and attraction. Strategies and messages might build upon historic and recreational sites and assets, including The Links at Groveport and the evolving Walnut Woods Metro Park which will further expand the area’s abundant inventory of park and open spaces assets and enhance the connection between Groveport and Canal Winchester.

•Identifying and promoting business expansion, development and investment opportunities which capitalize upon the local trade area’s growth and attractive consumer market segments; are compatible with existing development patterns; and are complementary to the existing and evolving mix of Groveport businesses.

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