Mayor Michael B. Coleman broke into a smile as the sun broke through cloud cover to smile down upon a ceremony last week commemorating the completion of the second phase of improvements to the Morse Road corridor.

Mayor Michael B. Coleman broke into a smile as the sun broke through cloud cover to smile down upon a ceremony last week commemorating the completion of the second phase of improvements to the Morse Road corridor.

"Today is an important day in the city of Columbus," Coleman said. "We have completed one of our most important long-term projects in the last 10 years."

The project included road resurfacing, new sidewalks and bike lanes along 2.9 miles between Interstate 71 and Cleveland Avenue. Coleman described it as a $30-million project.

"Everything is new," the mayor said. "Even the grass is new. Hopefully all this newness will bring new life to this community, new business to this community."

"Completion of the Morse Road project comes on the heels of the May 24 groundbreaking for the Columbus area's first Menards store on Morse Road," according to a statement issued by Coleman's spokesman, Daniel M. Williamson. "The Morse Road and Menards projects and additional redevelopment of the Northland Village site will result in a combined investment of more than $49.3-million by the city of Columbus in Morse Road between I-71 and Cleveland Avenue. The Menards store and other Northland Village redevelopment will generate 800 jobs onsite in addition to the more than 1,000 jobs already at the Ohio Department of Taxation."

"None of this was easy ... but we got it done," Coleman said during the ceremony.

Before the city investment and creation of a special improvement district in which property owners agreed to pay for maintaining the upgrades, the Morse Road corridor was in sad shape, according to the mayor. The roadway was out of date, there were no sidewalks, the corridor was not competitive and the entire area was in decline, Coleman said.

"So we stepped up and invested resources to bring this area back," he added. "That's what this represents, a new day for the community."

"It's great to be on Morse Road," said Douglas Krieger, owner of Krieger Ford where the commemoration was held.

His family opened the auto dealership in 1967, Krieger added, about the same time as the Northland Mall opened. Much has happened to the Morse Road corridor since that time, including the closing of the mall in 2002 and the subsequent purchase of the land by the city.

Krieger said that he has been involved in redevelopment efforts that date to 1999 and the members of the business community agreeing to the formation of the SID, which will keep the grass cut, the streets cleaned and the trash picked up along the improved roadway.

"Just like you'd take care of your house," Krieger said.

"We're glad to see the barrels gone," he added. "Everything is looking very bright."

Completion of Phase II marks "another milestone in the redevelopment of Northland," said city council president pro-tem Hearcel F. Craig, chairman of the minority and business development committee. He credited long-term business owners and long-term residents with helping to make the improvements a reality.

"I appreciate you hard work and thank you for all you're doing," Craig said.

"Morse Road is well on its way," Northland Community Council president Dave Paul said at the event.

"The completion of the Morse Road improvement project couldn't be better timed because it coincides with renewed development activity at Northland Village," Paul said in the city's announcement. "This portion of Morse Road is now one of Columbus' first 'Complete Streets,' and these improvements will bring new jobs and private investment to Northland."

The actual completion date for Phase II, according to the city announcement, is July 7.