Rocky Fork Enterprise

Shops at Rocky Fork

Council mulls TIF, rezoning on S. Hamilton

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Gahanna City Council on March 3 will consider a South Hamilton Road rezoning and a tax-increment-financing infrastructure agreement for Ranger Development Group's Shops at Rocky Fork.

City development director Anthony Jones said Feb. 10 that the TIF agreement would ensure the construction of public infrastructure items associated with the proposed redevelopment project at 291-361 S. Hamilton Road and 390 Rocky Fork Drive South. He said the rezoning and TIF are dependent on each other.

The Gahanna Planning Commission on Dec. 18 voted to recommend to council the rezoning of residential parcels to neighborhood commercial.

The request is by Ranger president Jason Zadeh and partner Greg Gallas, who brought the Commons at Clark Hall to the city.

The redevelopment of 3.55 acres along the west side of South Hamilton Road, just north of Rocky Fork Drive South, would create approximately 26,800 square feet within three retail-commercial buildings.

Jones said the total cost of the project is about $8.3 million and the developer has agreed to construct a sidewalk from the project site to the city park trail, approximately 1,400 feet to the west along Rocky Fork Drive South.

The development project is within the Hamilton Road TIF district roughly bound by Interstate 270 to the south, adjacent properties along Hamilton Road up to Clark State and certain properties west of Hamilton Road, along Carpenter Road and Granville Street.

Jones said the goal of the Hamilton Road TIF is to leverage private investment along the Hamilton corridor in an effort to fund public infrastructure items, including roadways, water, sewer, utilities, streetscapes, landscapes, stormwater maintenance, demolition, environmental remediation and parks.

Of the total project cost of $8.3 million, the developer could make about $1.6 million in infrastructure improvements that would be considered TIF-eligible items, Jones said. Those items include but are not limited to extensive streetscape improvements along Hamilton Road and Rocky Fork Drive South, landscaping surrounding the project site, utilities, stormwater maintenance and demolition. The developer would make those improvements initially at its own expense.

Jones said he recommends entering into the TIF infrastructure agreement to allow the city to reimburse the developer up to $750,000 for infrastructure improvements and all expenses associated with the sidewalk extension to the city park trail.

"It is important to note that the city will not be spending any monies up front for this project," he said.

To ensure that the redevelopment project would be built according to the renderings, Jones said, Ranger has agreed to provide covenants on the land. The restrictive covenants would require the developer to follow certain parameters when constructing the project, such as site access points, streetscapes, landscaping, buffers and building height, placement and size.

While discussing the proposed project, council member Stephen Renner said he would like to see more initiatives to support "mom-and-pop" shops citywide.

Zadeh said he sees franchising as people living an entrepreneurial dream.

"We like doing business with them," he said. "The Commons at Clark Hall is a good example. There's Smashburger and Menchie's (Frozen Yogurt). Rusty Bucket is local, and Gahanna Vision Center is a local business. When we can, we have that mix. We enjoy doing business with the locals."

In many cases, he said, it's more enjoyable to work with local businesses than national operators.

Zadeh said a lot of design and resources went into Gahanna Vision.

"We care and invested our own money," he said.

At the current stage of the Shops at Rocky Fork, Gallas said, local tenants tend not to pay attention.

"Where we find locals coming to us is when the steel starts coming up," he said. "It's difficult to predict at this stage what it will be."

Council is scheduled to review legal documents concerning the proposed TIF during their Feb. 24 committee meeting.

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