Grove City's city council has the final say on a proposal to buy land for the town center's redevelopment, but the administration has determined it's is worth paying more than twice the appraised value for some property in order to move the project forward.
At its next meeting, city council is scheduled to hear a second reading and vote on two pieces of legislation that would authorize the purchase of two houses, located at 3418 and 3422 Grant Ave., for $272,000 and additional property at 3951 Broadway and 3950-3963 Broadway for $1 million.
That's more than both sets of properties are worth, although much more so with the Broadway properties, according to the Franklin County Auditor's most recent appraisal, done in 2011.
According to information from the auditor's website, the combined value of the properties at 3951 Broadway and 3950-3963 Broadway is $430,100, and the combined value of 3418 and 3422 Grant Ave. is $206,500.
That location is considered crucial to the Pizzuti Cos.' proposed town center redevelopment plan to relocate the Grove City Library from 3359 Park St. to the intersection of Broadway and Grant.
City Administrator Chuck Boso said it's a matter of whether the benefits of economic development and increased foot traffic to the town center make the cost worth it.
"As far as I'm concerned, it does," he said. "If we don't get it, there's no library project for downtown."
Gary Smith, an appraiser with the auditor's office, said the property value is based on market indicators -- what compatible properties have sold for in similar markets, for example -- and income indicators, the operating costs of the property and revenue it generates.
"If (the owner) doesn't want to sell it and the city wants it, he can pretty much name his price," Smith said.
The city administration is currently awaiting another appraisal of the Broadway property from the Horner Appraisal Group, a Columbus firm. While Boso said he expects the new appraisal to be greater than the county's, he doubts it will be as high as $1 million.
"It wasn't what I called an arms-length negotiation," Boso said. "These aren't people with signs in their yards that say 'for sale' ... What we're saying, in terms of the administration, is we're willing to pay $1 million."
Horner also appraised the Grant properties, and Boso said the value they came in at was a combined $250,000.
Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said $1 million is what the owner is asking for. The fact the city would be paying more than the county appraisal amount is not new, he added.
"This is pretty typical of real estate when you're dealing with a city," Stage said. "It's a unique location. It's a unique property."
Stage said officials are still waiting for the appraisal, so council can be fully informed when it makes its decision and public debate can be had.
"It's only fair to the public and to us," he said. "We have to have all the facts in front of us."