Grove City Record

Parkway Centre

Officials say development has yielded big dividends

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Looking back on the project, city officials said Parkway Centre development has been a boon for Grove City.

The commercial center, located east of Interstate 71 off of Stringtown Road, is the result of a development process more than 10 years in the making.

"It's been a win for the developer, the city and also our residents," City Administrator Chuck Boso said.

Prior to the development of Parkway Centre, most of the property was farmland or residential.

"Stringtown Road was a two-lane road," Boso said. "We certainly wanted to improve that area east of 71."

There had been a number of development ideas over the years, Boso said, including housing and, at one time, talk of locating the Columbus Crew soccer stadium there -- but it was the financial makeup of the Parkway Centre project that allowed it to advance, he added.

Development of Parkway Centre to what it is today dates back to Sept. 3, 2002, when City Council approved ordinance C-80-02.

"That set up the tax-increment financing district, the TIF," Boso said. "Without the influx of public funds, the project probably wouldn't have gotten off the ground."

The 30-year agreement embedded in the TIF legislation, Boso said, essentially formalized the partnership between the city and the developer, Continental Real Estate Cos., as well as the South-Western City School District. The TIF operates by taking "payments in lieu of property taxes" from the added values of the developed properties, putting the money in a TIF fund and using that money to pay for public improvements.

Those public capital improvements, according to the ordinance, included improvements to White Road and Stringtown Road with the installation of sidewalks, curbs, street lights, traffic control signs, landscaping, irrigation and other measures; constructing Buckeye Parkway between Stringtown and White roads with the necessary improvements to go along with it; constructing streets within the property itself; and building a connector between Jackpot and Thistlewood roads.

City Finance Director Mike Turner said the city issued around $16 million of debt in 2006 to pay for the capital improvements of Parkway Centre, and since then has been using the TIF money to pay for the debt service, which amounts to $1.2 million annually.

Money left over in the TIF every year is given to the school district. In 2011, the schools received around $1.5 million and $1.688 million in 2012, Turner said.

"That's a huge benefit right there," he said. "We get enough from the TIF fund to pay for the work, and the rest goes to the schools."

The city's benefit comes in the form of income tax revenue it collects from the more than 60 businesses in Parkway Centre. Although he said it is difficult to determine a precise figure, Turner said he estimates that comes to $600,000 in revenue for the city.

"I'm certain it's more than that," he said.

Apart from the revenue it brings the city and schools, Boso said Parkway Centre also has benefited residents by bringing them the convenience of a first-class commercial development and serving as a regional draw with retail shops and restaurants.

"Before the center, there was very little," he said. "It brought a product the city was lacking. It brought a new element to Grove City."

Boso said he anticipates more commercial and residential development on the center's east side toward state Route 104.

"I think, eventually, development will continue," Boso said.

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