A town center property owner said his property could be ready by this fall as a dedicated location for the city's proposed center of learning.

A town center property owner said his property could be ready by this fall as a dedicated location for the city's proposed center of learning.

The center of learning is a concept by Grove City Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage, and approved by city council. It involves several colleges offering classes full time in the town center. The center would improve Grove City's image and revitalize the town center, Stage has said.

A partnership of eight institutions of higher learning has agreed to the idea. The mayor and the universities, however, have yet to find a permanent downtown location for classes. The colleges will offer classes at night this fall in the South-Western Career Academy as a temporary compromise.

Stage wants to find a permanent location for the center of learning by next fall.

Gary Curry, however, said his property is ready now.

"I'm willing to invest in this property to whatever the schools' needs are," he said. "I want the colleges and universities to locate to the town center insomuch that I'm willing to make it extremely affordable."

Stage has met with property owners to encourage them to propose town center locations.

Stage said he plans to issue an official request for proposals from town center property owners this month.

Stage said Curry's building "and at least two other locations are ideal." He declined to name the two other locations.

"But it's not going to be our choice," Stage added. "It's the schools' choice."

He earlier said his goal is to find a town center site for the center of learning in 2011.

The universities are committed for at least one year at the South-Western Career Academy, he said.

Stephen Stuart, a consultant with Ashland University, said he expects the partnership will seek proposals from town center property owners before selecting a permanent site.

Curry last summer suggested his property as the location of the center of learning.

At that time, city council members were discussing a preliminary development plan by Gahanna-based developer Stonehenge Co. for the lumberyard site, a roughly 3.5-acre triangular tract behind City Hall.

The lumberyard was the proposed center of learning site until city council scrapped the Stonehenge plan in February.

Curry at the time told city council that buildings on his property, which sit adjacent to the lumberyard property, could be renovated at a lower price than a site in the lumberyard.

Curry said last week at least one of his buildings at 3515 or 3531 Grove City Road, also called the old Tosoh buildings, still could serve as a suitable location for the center of learning.

Representatives of the eight institutions set for the center of learning have said they will need about 20,000 square feet.

Curry's building at 3515 Grove City Road is about 20,000 square feet and has about 100 parking spaces.

University representatives toured Curry's proposed building earlier this year.

In preparation for the tour, Curry said he paid Columbus-based Lincoln Street Studio $2,000 to design classroom floor plans for the proposed center of learning in his old Tosoh building.

"That 20,000 square feet is available immediately," Curry said. "I'm sure we can build out that building by this fall to the colleges' and universities' specifications."

Curry supports the idea of a center of learning.

He said he thinks having it in the town center will help promote a positive image for Grove City.

"It'll make (development director) Chuck Boso's job easier," Curry said.

Curry said he has received no feedback from the city or the universities about his proposal.

Because Curry's building is adjacent to the lumberyard property, "it's certainly logical to look at Gary's property," said Grove City administrator Phil Honsey.

Honsey added the decision is not limited to Curry's building.

But "he's probably the strongest private entity yet," he said.