In October, Grove City was named Best Hometown of Central Ohio by Ohio Magazine, and that's a distinction Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said he wants maintained.
"We don't want to be known as a city," Stage said. "We want to be known as a big neighborhood ... It's got all the qualities of one."
As Grove City enters 2013, Stage said he has a "high level of optimism."
"We experienced a blessing by the fact we were stable with a little uptick," said Stage, referring to the past year. "Other communities have continued to be on the down turn ... Even with the hits, we managed to carry over positive balances."
While the city took hits as a result of state cuts to the local government fund as well as the elimination of the estate tax, Stage said the administration is hopeful "we hit the bottom" in terms of the state altering historical revenue sources. One possible upcoming change is House Bill 601, a piece of proposed state legislation intended to change Ohio's municipal tax system by making it more uniform.
"We've been assured by the bill's author it'll be income neutral," Stage said.
Going forward, Stage said the key will be economic development.
"We've got to fill the gap, and the only way to fill the gap is to attract new businesses," Stage said. "We're going to be ahead by what we're putting in today."
Two of the larger economic development projects will be at the forefront of 2013: the redevelopment of the Town Center by Pizzuti Cos. and the construction of the new health care facilities by Mount Carmel Health System.
The Pizzuti project would see a transformation of downtown. The Grove City Library would be relocated from 3359 Park St. to the intersection of Broadway and Grant Avenue, city hall would go from 4035 Broadway to the current site of the library to make way for commercial office and restaurant space, and a number of residential buildings would be built at Broadway and Columbus Street.
City council granted preliminary approval in December to proceed, but additional details and final approval are still required. Stage said the city would continue to work with Pizzuti as it progresses through the development process, but much of the project is dependent on Pizzuti's negotiations with existing property owners.
"We're hoping that'll start in the first quarter," he said.
Also in development this year is the construction of Mount Carmel's new emergency care center and medical office building at 5525 Hoover Road. The project broke ground in October and is to be completed by late 2013.
Stage said OhioHealth, which purchased additional land near its site on Stringtown Road, is also looking to move forward with its development plans sometime this year.
"They told us they'll have a new emergency care facility there as well," he said.
Those projects, as well as the state housing market, will be indicators for the city over the next five years, Stage said.