Liquor option earns overwhelming support in UA
Upper Arlington residents voted overwhelmingly Tuesday, Nov. 6, to permit alcohol sales for the entire Lane Avenue community entertainment district, and in doing so, preserved 11 current businesses’ liquor licenses.
Issue 24 was the city of Upper Arlington’s initiative to allow alcohol sales for all parcels in its 39-acre Lane Avenue CED.
As of 10:39 p.m. Nov. 6, with all 33 precincts reporting, Issue 24 received 17,546 favorable votes (84.04 percent) to 3,331 votes against (15.96 percent), according to unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections.
The resounding result affirmed Upper Arlington City Council’s prediction that the community wants the option of purchasing alcohol at stores and restaurants with bars along the Lane Avenue district, as well as at a five-story hotel currently under construction there.
Two months ago, Upper Arlington City Council moved forward with Issue 24, despite receiving an opinion from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office that its failure at the polls would make it illegal for 11 current liquor license-holders in the CED to sell beer, wine or spirits.
On election night, a number of city officials gathered at La Chatelaine French Bakery & Bistro in the CED, where they toasted the victory.
“It’s kind of actually how I anticipated it,” Councilwoman Deborah Johnson said. “I really trusted the voters of Upper Arlington, that they would see how this development here on Lane Avenue and how this district will help Upper Arlington.”
Now, businesses in a 26,000-square-foot space that formerly housed the Lane Avenue Baptist Church, plus several residential properties earmarked for redevelopment – including a hotel, restaurants with bars and the proposed site of the J. Liu restaurant and bar – will be permitted to sell alcohol.
The current license-holders in the CED that will be able to continue selling alcohol are: Carsonie’s Stromboli & Pizza Kitchen, China Dynasty, Easy Living Deli, La Chatelaine, Piada Italian Street Food, Pizza Hut, Royal Ginger Asian Fusion Bistro, Rusty Bucket Restaurant & Tavern, Speedway, Whole Foods Market and the Wine Bistro.
“That’s very good news,” said Stan Wielezynski, owner of La Chatelaine. “It’s very good for the whole area and, in general, for all of Upper Arlington.
“I think the city made a very nice move to do that, and I’m so pleased the people of Upper Arlington went for it.”
City officials championed the issue’s victory as an economic development driver in one of the city’s most popular commercial areas, saying it would have long-lasting implications in maintaining the CED’s continued success and growth.
They’re banking on that prosperity after investing in CED infrastructure and parking upgrades.
That investment includes previous city projections that Lane Avenue Redevelopment LLC’s planned development of the former church site could generate more than $711,000 in new, annual property taxes and tax-increment financing deals with the developer to help fund roadway and other infrastructure projects with private dollars in lieu of tax payments.
In addition to crediting Upper Arlington voters for their support, Johnson said the Upper Arlington Chamber of Commerce and Yes on Issue 24, a political-action committee of business people and other proponents of the issue, were vital in the campaign to get the measure passed.
J. Christopher Scott, chairman of the Upper Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Advocacy Group, said Issue 24’s passage is another positive progression for the city, and shows residents support local efforts to boost economic development.
“The overwhelming victory of Issue 24 in the Tuesday election demonstrates that the citizens of Upper Arlington are committed to sound economic redevelopment,” Scott said. “With only 11 percent of our land area zoned for commercial and mixed-use development, the city must maximize opportunities to increase income tax and real estate tax revenues in areas such as the Lane Avenue corridor.
“By supporting Issue 24, the people confirmed that it wants a vibrant entertainment district in the center of the city, which will enhance our quality of life, while at the same time, helping to strengthen the city’s tax base, ensuring that it will be able to continue to provide the excellent level of services which our citizens have come to expect.”