The first redevelopment project on the Bexley side of Livingston Avenue in decades has Mayor Ben Kessler excited about the future of the business corridor.
Work is under way to transform an abandoned BP gasoline station at 2062 E. Livingston Ave. into a Tim Hortons restaurant. The site is adjacent to the entrance ramp for Interstate 70 West near Alum Creek.
"I don't want to overstate what this means, but it is definitely a step in the right direction," Kessler said. "This is the first time in decades that new construction has come to the Bexley side of Livingston."
Kessler said city officials worked closely with the developers to encourage them and help them navigate the Bexley planning process.
"I'm very pleased with the result," Kessler said. "A new, attractive development is coming to Livingston, and the project is being built to site, building and landscaping standards on par with Bexley's Main Street Design Guidelines. With the case of this site, this is more than just new development. This site was also environmentally remediated prior to the new development commencing, and getting the old BP site cleaned and ready for redevelopment is a great achievement."
The redevelopment project began just less than a year after Bexley voters approved a charter change to permit drive-through uses on Livingston Avenue.
"It's no coincidence that new development opened up on our side of Livingston as soon as residents approved a charter change allowing for drive-through restaurants on Livingston Avenue," Kessler said. "That change was one of many recommendations from the 2011 Bexley Land Use Strategy, and we're working on making progress on all of the recommendations of the strategy."
Kessler said his long-term vision for Livingston Avenue is simple.
"I envision a corridor that reflects the neighborhood fabric of the adjoining communities of Bexley and Berwick, an area that is stable, desirable and functional," he said. "The area has a lot going for it, with the tremendous value added by the JCC just south of Livingston, and with its strong traffic counts and its adjacency to Bexley, Capital University and a strong demographic base."
Kessler said the greatest challenge to change on Livingston Avenue is the inconsistent controls in place between Columbus on the south side and Bexley on the north side.
"Decades of disjointed effort, at many times arguably no effort at all, have resulted in an incoherent and generic corridor that doesn't look or feel like it's in either Bexley or Berwick," he said. "We're making inroads in uniting our planning priorities and crafting a consistent and meaningful approach to development on Livingston Avenue on both sides of the street."
Kessler said the redevelopment of Livingston Avenue is an important factor in building a more stable community.
"At the very least, redevelopment of Livingston and the Ferndale and Mayfield streets that branch off of it means a more stable southwest Bexley neighborhood with less drain on our public safety services and code enforcement official," Kessler said. "Beyond that, redevelopment of the corridor presents the possibility of bringing new payroll and new value to the community that will help Bexley remain a vibrant and sustainable community into the future."