Residents, community leaders turn out for development's grand opening
State and local officials and private enterprise joined together Thursday, May 1, to celebrate Creekside, a project that was 10 years in the making.
Creekside features 100,000 square feet of retail and office space, 71 condominiums and 35,000 square feet of public and parking space. A private dedication ceremony was held last Thursday to celebrate the grand opening.
Other activities were held throughout the weekend, including a public dedication on Saturday, live music, children's activities and the inaugural Parks and Recreation Foundation gala on Saturday.
"I would like to thank all of you for celebrating this special day for the city of Gahanna and central Ohio," said development director Sadicka White.
The grand opening celebrated one of the most ambitious developments in Gahanna's 115-year history, she said.
"We know that we have a special resource here with the Big Walnut Creek," White said. "This is an opportunity to do something for the community."
White thanked Creekside developer Stonehenge Company for integrating all the best characteristics of the initial development plans. She said the project was the result of a public-private partnership partially funded by tax increment financing.
Creekside is a new gathering place with restaurants and retail space. Visitors have plenty of room to park in the new parking garage. The development is a "new heart for Old Gahanna," White said, and will serve as a catalyst for further redevelopment.
Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks said it was a great day for Franklin County, the city of Columbus, the townships and most importantly the city of Gahanna. Brooks said the development was the result of two great women -- Mayor Becky Stinchcomb and White -- who "felt a great wind blowing."
"I can't wait to see more changes coming," Brooks said.
Mark Bell, from U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi's office, presented proclamations to the city from Tiberi and U.S. Sens. George Voinovich and Sherrod Brown.
"What a beautiful day for a great event," Bell said, stressing the importance of the public and private sectors working together.
He said as a first-ring suburb, Gahanna is aging, but city leaders are doing a good job reinventing the community, citing projects such as Creekside and the redevelopment of the Bedford Landfill.
"Gahanna, I commend you for your vision and leadership," Bell said.
Stinchcomb encouraged visitors to listen to the waterfall, feel the warm sunshine and view the herbs, flowers and public plazas.
"It is easy to forget where you are," she said.
She said city leaders developed a vision for Creekside when they visited the San Antonio River Walk in 2005. City leaders wanted to capitalize on Gahanna's own water resource, the Big Walnut Creek.
"This is everything I ever hoped and dreamed it could become," she said. "I would like to thank the entire Gahanna community for the ongoing support and trust."
Stonehenge president Mo Dioun said he first got involved with the project in February 2003 when he submitted a project proposal. He said Creekside is possible because of a true public-private partnership.
He thanked Stinchcomb for her commitment to the project, Bird Houk for the company's design work and Stonehenge employees, who oversaw 500 construction workers.
Dioun said 85,000 of Creekside's 100,000 square feet of retail space has been leased to office and business tenants. Additionally, 30 percent of the residential space has been spoken for.
City Council member Tom Evers said vibrant cities need to find a way to evolve and grow. He said Gahanna has capable visionaries who lead that evolution.
"Creekside is part of Gahanna's evolution," he said. "Creekside is not the end. It is the beginning of revitalizing Old Gahanna."