The boats are long gone, but the canal lands at Main and Front Street will once again be a source of commerce for Groveport under a newly approved private-public development plan.
Groveport City Council agreed April 22 to approve a development plan and the associated bond funds, not to exceed $1,077,977, for site improvements associated with the public portion of the development. These include a public parking lot, a connector for a multi-use path and upgrades to Main Street to match this site with the rest of downtown.
Assistant City Administrator Jeff Green said Groveport employees are able to do a fair amount of this work themselves, so most of the $1 million from the city will go for materials.
He estimated the project could bring 25 to 50 new jobs to Groveport.
"This will finally provide completion to our downtown streetscape as well as parking for the general public, including for the municipal building," he said. "I've been working on finding a good fit for this location since 2002. The beauty of this plan is it comes with an anchor tenant as the developer, so this one finally has legs to get done."
Green said the developer, Rick Foreman, hasn't finalized the plans yet and doesn't yet have a dollar amount to attach to the private side of the project.
Foreman is a former Groveport resident who currently owns and operates Ace Hardware stores in Baltimore and Ashville. He said he is excited to open his third Ace Hardware in Groveport.
"This opportunity presented itself and seemed like a good opportunity and a great fit," Foreman said. "Ace has people who study the demographics in the market to try and make sure their stores succeed.
"As our hardware stores are growing, others are failing," he added. "We use technology to make sure we don't run out of anything and focus on customer service, which includes being open the hours that work for regular people, like evenings and weekends."
Councilman Shawn Cleary joked that home plumbing projects often take five trips to the hardware store to get it right.
"We've done studies and found the average is three trips for plumbing, so if you're working on your bathroom, we'll have what you need and be open for you," Foreman said.
According to project architect David Efaw of RED Architects, the anchor building will be about 10,000 square feet and a second, multi-tenant and multiuse building will be about 7,200 square feet.
"The timeline for this project is to break ground July 1 on the Ace Hardware building, with a completion date of October, and we'll complete the multi-use building once it is 50-percent leased," Efaw said. "The character we looked for is in context with Groveport's Main Street character: brick with board-and-batten materials. There will be a parking pass-through between the two buildings."
Foreman said he hopes to have both buildings completed by next spring.
Although council unanimously approved the plans and associated legislation, an amendment to the appropriations bill remains before bids can be awarded and work started.
"The appropriation amendment is expected to come before council at the next meeting to authorize (City Administrator Marsha Hall) to go out for bids," Green said. "At the end of the day, people will like what they see because this is a beautiful development that will really complete downtown."