The Pizzuti Cos. presented Plan B to the city, but City Council wants to be certain the original plan can't happen.
In a special meeting before the regular council session March 18, Shannon Hamons, Pizzuti's vice president of its Columbus region, presented an updated plan for the company's proposed redevelopment of the Grove City Town Center.
The updated proposal would see transform the current site of city hall, 4035 Broadway, and the adjacent former lumber yard into three buildings that could have as many 150 single-bedroom and studio apartment units as well as 10,000 square feet of retail space.
Hamons said Pizzuti has been in communication with two interested restaurants that would fill out the retail space. The City Hall building would either be torn down completely or have a portion of it be re-used for the project. A tax-increment financing district (TIF) would also be considered to pay for public improvements.
"Both restaurants would be great additions," Hamons said. "This is a good plan B."
Last year, Pizzuti proposed and council accepted a plan that called for the construction of four multi-family residential buildings at Broadway and Columbus Street, the relocation of the Grove City Library from 359 Park St. to the intersection of Broadway and Grant Avenue, moving City Hall the library's current site and renovating the city building for commercial office and restaurant uses.
Council members said they were hesitant to approve the updated plan.
"The risk in the Columbus Street property is much greater than with City Hall," said Council President Ted Berry. "I'd like to know 100 percent over the next 30 days that (the original) deal can't happen."
Hamons said a number of factors have pushed Pizzuti to want to drop development of Columbus Street. The cost of buying the property escalated beyond what the company found "appropriate," the relocation of AEP and Telecom utility lines would cost significantly more than anticipated and there is uncertainty surrounding the Schoedinger & Co. Funeral Home, located 3920 Broadway.
Hamons said while the funeral home has indicated it is looking to relocate, there is uncertainty about when that might happen, and Pizzuti can't afford to wait.
In all, according to numbers provided by Pizzuti to the city, developing the area by Columbus Street would cost $5.7 million more than redeveloping the City Hall site, most of that amount -- about $4 million -- because of the cost of relocating utilities.
Hamons said Pizzuti wants to break ground this fall. Otherwise, the window of opportunity will be gone, he added.
"We can't be sitting here come this October waiting for a decision," Hamons said. "Costs go up the longer we wait."
Berry said council would be willing to consider paying for the cost of relocating the utilities.
"Are we going to let utility lines stand in the way of redevelopment?" Berry asked council. "It's going to continue to rear its ugly head."
Other council members indicated they'd be willing to discuss the possibility.
"I think it's feasible," Councilman Steve Bennett said.
"We need to bring the city to the 21st century," Councilwoman Maria Klemack-McGraw said.
Hamons said Pizzuti will consider council request, but the company is pretty certain the Columbus Street plan is a no-go.
Council is scheduled to meet next on April 1, but Berry said they will likely have another special meeting sooner to discuss the project further.