Looking ahead to the new year, Canal Winchester officials are focused on continued commercial and residential development, helping to continue the city's growth.
The past year saw several significant developments, including the first new construction in the historic district in more than 25 years, the new Bob McDorman Automotive Museum; a 95,000-square-foot manufacturing plant addition at TS Trim; and the largest commercial redevelopment in recent history, the $4-million Jeff Wyler Chevrolet.
Development Director Lucas Haire said that as these projects are complete, several more are moving beyond the planning stages and will become reality in 2014.
"Construction of the Winchester Ridge Apartments on Diley Road will add a significant number of people to our growing population," Haire said. "This residential growth on Diley Road will support the growth of additional retail along Diley Road as future customers for businesses move into the area."
The 198-unit Winchester Ridge Apartments will be the first large-scale apartment development within the city of Canal Winchester. Mayor Michael Ebert said he hopes that, in combination with the current businesses on Diley Road, as well as the newly completed McDonald's, it will prove to be another major growth point for the city.
"Canal Winchester received its second McDonald's restaurant in 2013. While some people don't view this as a significant event, I on the other hand cannot think of any other town in Ohio the size of Canal Winchester that has two McDonald's restaurants," Ebert said. "If the world's largest restaurant chain likes what they see here, and believe Canal Winchester is up to supporting two of their restaurants, then to me that says this is definitely a good place to be doing business and I think it will only help spur additional commercial growth going forward."
The long-vacant Wendy's along U.S. Route 33 also will be redeveloped.
"The completion of renovations to the former Wendy's restaurant, that has been an eyesore for a number of years, will greatly improve the image of Canal Winchester from those who are just traveling through the community on U.S. Route 33," Haire said. "JSB Home Improvements plans to compete an addition and renovations to the building to make it a home remodeling showroom."
Additional development of the Canal Pointe Industry and Commerce Park also is on Haire's radar for 2014.
"Lucky Bones recently broke ground on their new dog boarding and grooming facility. CAM Logistics has been approved for the construction of a new office and warehouse building; they plan to break ground in the spring," Haire said. "We are working with a number of other businesses that are considering investments in the area as well."
Infrastructure improvements will continue to be a major expenditure for the city in the new year as well. Ebert said the community is particularly looking forward to the Gender Road Phase 3 roundabout.
"The announcement of the first-ever roundabout in the Tri-County (Franklin, Fairfield, Pickaway) area has raised a good deal of anticipation," Ebert said. "From the combined meeting we had with nearly all of the surrounding local government entities including schools and safety services, as well as residents, we found the proposed roundabout, scheduled to begin construction in the spring, will be a welcomed addition to the transportation system in our area."
What hadn't been anticipated, but will be a major investment in 2014, is even further replacement of water and sewer lines. In November, the city discovered significant stretches of deteriorated underground lines, which Public Works Director Matt Peoples estimates could cost several hundred thousand dollars to replace.
"We were able to replace several thousand feet of deteriorating water and sewer lines throughout the city in 2013 thanks to the help of an OPWC grant and low-interest financing," Ebert said. "Most of the replaced buried lines were 50 years old or older and had been bursting during recent freezing winter months."
City officials are hopeful they'll be able to save money using more modern materials and techniques for replacing the lines, and look at possible grants to reduce expenses.
According to Finance Director Amanda Jackson, state funding reductions will continue to be a difficulty for the city in 2014. However a strong financial finish to 2013 and continued conservative fiscal policy, along with a new investment policy, should allow the city to remain fiscally strong.
Haire said new employment in the city has also helped boost income tax revenue, and is anticipated to further spur growth, including in the historic district.
"An agreement between Associates Title and the city provided them an incentive to purchase and improve a building at 25 E. Waterloo St. that had been vacant for a number of years, and to move 22 employees into the building," Haire said. "This makes them the one of the largest employers in Old Town, and their employees spending at other businesses in the area will support the continued growth of the historic district."