Groveport city officials see 2013 as a year of significant development, both commercially and in regard to public facilities.
Both City Administrator Marsha Hall and Finance Director Jeff Green said the past year has been exceptional for development projects -- in particular, the groundbreaking for the new Town Center project.
City officials have worked for years to bring a development on the old canal lands to fruition. Finally, thanks to a public-private partnership agreement with developer Rick Foreman, the project has started.
"This year, we broke ground on a project that has been many years in the making: the Groveport Town Center," Green said. "This project will include a 10,000-square-foot Ace Hardware store and additional space for new restaurants, shops and offices, while also adding a significant amount of new parking space in the center of the downtown area."
Once the Town Center is finished, besides the Ace Hardware store as the anchor tenant, it will include a 7,200-square-foot, multi-tenant, mixed-use building that Green estimates could bring as many as 50 new jobs to Groveport.
Town Center isn't the only downtown development to occur this year.
"On the other end of Main Street, ground was broken for a new Advanced Auto store," he added.
Groveport's industrial parks have also seen a development boom over the past year.
"We saw the continued expansion of many of the companies in our industrial parks," Green said. "Eddie Bauer is a good example, with the company increasing their employment to more than 1,000 employees this year with further growth projected.
"We also added four new companies: La-Z-Boy, Stella & Dot, HD Supply and Gymboree, all with a combined employment count of 800 to 1,000."
Green said these investments have led to record occupancy rates.
"The occupancy rate in our industrial parks is at a record low of 4 to 5 percent, and we are now in discussions with developers who are planning to break ground in 2014 for new speculative buildings to add more space," he said.
Hall said one of the important infrastructure upgrades of 2013, connected to the industrial parks, was the reconstruction of Spiegel Drive, paid for primarily by an Ohio Public Works Commission grant, along with a no-interest loan.
The city's finances finished the year in good shape, thanks to an unprecedented increase in income tax collections, even with continued state funding cuts.
"Income tax collections are up more than 44 percent," Green said.
However, he explained that the percentage "is a bit of an anomaly, due to an unusually large tax payment by one of our larger companies. Take that away and our collections would still be up by around 15 percent."
Thanks to the city's fiscal responsibility, and the completion of comprehensive facilities planning, several enhancements to the municipal building are under way, including the expansion of the building department and procurement of additional parking, as well as the build-out of a new police facility on Clyde Moore Drive, Hall said.
Green thanked his staff for their contribution to the city's financial status.
"We completed our audit for 2012 with zero citations -- written or verbal -- which is a first for the city and a testament to the diligence and hard work of my finance staff, Anna Krigbaum and Amy Hartung," he said.
Hall also pointed out that Groveport completed its emergency operations plan and the installation of the new water meter program this year.
The new water metering program has already shown benefits for some residents, she said, by allowing the city to pinpoint problems in the system quickly. In one recent case, a broken water line on a resident's property was discovered because the metering program reported a spike in usage. Previously, Hall said, this would have gone unnoticed for at least one full billing cycle.
"These are just a few of the things that have kept us busy," Green said. "We're already looking ahead to 2014 and preparing for an even busier and productive year."