Marble Cliff Village Council Monday approved a resolution to establish most of the village as a community reinvestment area.

Marble Cliff Village Council Monday approved a resolution to establish most of the village as a community reinvestment area.

The action will allow the village to negotiate tax abatement agreements with developers for commercial properties in the community reinvestment area.

The resolution also designates a housing officer to administer the program and authorizes the creation of a Community Redevelopment Housing Council

The village council agreed to have Council President Kent Studebaker serve as the housing officer.

The resolution "is an enabling step" to allow tax abatements to occur in the village, Village Solicitor Mitch Banchefsky said. "The resolution itself is not an abatement for anything."

In other business, representatives of a potential applicant for a tax abatement, Excel Project Management, made a presentation about the company's plans for the former Custom Coach property on U.S. Route 33.

The company's plans have been revised since the informal presentation it made to council in December.

The company is planning an office/service development for the site, Excel President Doug Reardon said.

Both the front and rear buildings at the property would be upgraded, he said. Excel would locate its offices in about half of the front building and lease the remaining space in that building and in the rear structure to tenants.

Excel Project Management is an 18-year old Columbus-based firm that specializes in building distribution centers and food processing centers.

The revised plan for the property includes installing a pond with fountains on the site, Reardon said.

The company is seeking to purchase the one-acre parcel the village owns adjacent to the Custom Coach property.

The revised plan would include a walkway to connect the Custom Coach property to the village parcel, Reardon said.

There would be no loading docks on the property, he said.

"We won't have docks. We don't envision having big heavy truck traffic here," Reardon said.

Architect Alfred Berthold reviewed some of the design elements that will be added to the buildings.

A canopy will be installed to signify the location of the front door, he said. Roofing will be added to provide shade for windows.

About half of the front building will have new siding installed, but the structure will remain a metal building, Berthold said.

Landscaping will be enhanced at the site, Reardon said, including an effort to reduce the amount of pavement at the site as much as possible.

The Custom Coach building is an icon in the community, he said.

"We want to capture all the positives of the building to reflect good taste and get rid of those things that are less than pleasing to the eye," Reardon said.

The design "reflects our own aspiration of what the building means to us and what we think it could mean to the community," he said.

Council members raised some concern about Excel's request that the village sell its one-acre parcel. In December, Reardon asked the village to sell the property "for a nominal amount."

It's understandable why the company wants to purchase the parcel, Council member David Roark said. But the village may have to enact an agreement with Excel that would provide some assurance that what happens to the property "is not something we never anticipated happening and that you didn't either," Roark said.

Studebaker suggested the village get an opinion from Banchefsky about various issues regarding the potential sale of the parcel.

The village may find that it cannot in essence "just give (the property) away" to Excel, he said.

There is also the question of whether the village would have to allow other parties a chance to make an offer for the property and if it would have to accept an offer that was better than Excel's bid, Studebaker said.

Council agreed it should consider getting the parcel appraised and passed a resolution authorizing spending up to $3,000 to do so.

afroman@thisweeknews.com