Hilliard officials want more details concerning a proposed commercial and residential development at Cemetery Road and Franklin Street, but several members of the City Planning, Projects and Services Committee of City Council appeared Nov. 5 to generally support the proposal.
The $15 million to $18 million project would align Luxair Drive with Franklin Street, require the relocation of the Starliner Diner and demolish the inoperable grain elevator and silo in the area.
"It's a blighted property and the last eyesore in Hilliard. We need to get it developed," said Hilliard Economic Development Director David Meeks.
John Royer of Buckeye KRG is the proposed developer.
Attorney Glenn Dugger represented the developer at the Nov. 5 meeting, where Meeks and Dugger explained the need for quick action on a proposed ordinance to establish a tax-increment financing district for the parcel.
A TIF is an economic development mechanism available to local governments to finance public infrastructure improvements and, in certain circumstances, residential rehabilitation, according to the Ohio Department of Development. A TIF works by locking in the taxable worth of real property at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation is approved.
Rezoning of the parcel and a development plan has yet to be considered, but Meeks wants a TIF in place so the current and lower value of the land is used as opposed to its increased value once it would be rezoned and improved upon.
Typically, Meeks said, legislation creating a TIF and adopting a development plan are moved simultaneously, but in this instance it is beneficial to first establish the TIF.
A 30-year TIF is being proposed. It would use property-tax revenue to fund the infrastructure required for the commercial and residential development.
A 10-year, 75 percent TIF would apply for the first 10 years. A "non-school" TIF would apply for the remainder of the term, Meeks said. A "non-school" TIF means the local schools would continue to receive revenue from any new businesses in the area.
"This development has a lot of moving parts," said Dugger, who reiterated plans are being tweaked daily.
A rezoning application is expected to be filed by the end of this week, Dugger said, after which a preliminary development plan will be presented to the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission.
Dugger said the plan will almost surely include land swaps that will be necessary to relocate Starliner Diner because the realigned Franklin Street, on the north side of Cemetery Road, would pass through the current site of the restaurant.
The Sunbelt Rentals store also is included in the boundaries of the TIF and might relocate or move from the site, Dugger said.
Most of Franklin Street north of Cemetery Road is privately owned, but the city has rights of way for much of the remainder of the parcel, Dugger said.
When completed, the newly aligned Franklin Street would provide an alternate north-to-south connection, parallel and to the west of Norwich Street, from Cemetery Road to Main Street in Old Hilliard. The road would have curbs and gutters and connect to Luxair Drive with a traffic light at Cemetery Road.
"Twenty-somethings" are the demographics sought for the residential component of 183 one- and two-bedroom apartments, Dugger said, while the commercial uses would buffer Cemetery Road.
City Council President Brett Sciotto said while most TIF agreements are for "open fields," this TIF would be placed on a site with existing structures and warrants special consideration.
"This is a unique area," said Sciotto, adding he was willing to change the standard practice of establishing a TIF, including the presence of a residential component.
Still, Councilman Joe Erb voiced concern about setting a precedent by using a TIF for a residential development.
Erb said while he was willing to fulfill Meeks' request to move the legislation out of committee for consideration at the next meeting of City Council, it would be done with no recommendation, as opposed to a positive recommendation typically bestowed.
"I can't give it a favorable recommendation. ... I still have a lot of questions," Erb said. "But a full City Council needs to vet this."
The next scheduled meeting of Hilliard City Council is at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19, at the Hilliard Municipal Building, 3800 Municipal Way.