Uptown revitalization includes 'bright spots'
Work continues March 28 on a new Municipal Services Complex at 209 S. Main St. in Marysville. The $7 million investment will have a "huge impact on Uptown Marysville," according to Eric Phillips, executive director of the Union County Economic Development Partnership. Buy This Photo
To hear Eric Phillips tell it, economic development is like a roller coaster: lots of hills and valleys to be traveled on a ride into the future.
Phillips, executive director of the Union County Economic Development Partnership, is also involved with TEAM Marysville, a public-private partnership of business owners, property owners, city and county officials who came together last summer with the idea of overseeing revitalization efforts in Uptown Marysville.
Phillips said TEAM Marysville was developed through the Union County Chamber of Commerce.
"We felt there needed to be an effort based on the new revitalization plan that was just completed and approved by the city," he said.
TEAM Marysville meets on a bimonthly basis. Four committees, each pursuing various actions in completing the plan, focus on attracting, retaining and creating business and on civic infrastructure.
"I think we have a great opportunity now," Phillips said. "We had a town meeting a couple of weeks ago and it was very well attended. We had a lot of good feedback, a lot of good discussion about ideas on how people would like to see their Uptown do better and prosper."
So far, he said, the plan to improve Uptown Marysville has produced several bright spots.
"Old Bag of Nails is a bright spot with the development we've seen there. We have the Scotts store -- I think that attracts people," he said. "We have the old Locker Room, which is being converted into the Mexican restaurant, which is exciting news."
He also is excited about a $600,000 investment to clean up Town Run. The money will come from an EPA grant, a Clean Ohio Grant and some investment from the city of Marysville.
"Right now, it's a ditch that hasn't been taken care of in over a hundred years, so we're going to restore it and shore up the banks and improve the environment and quality of the area," he said.
One very visible project -- and one Phillips called a "catalyst" -- is the construction of a new Municipal Services Complex for the city. The project includes restoring the old fire station and adding administrative offices.
"That plan is going to have a huge impact on Uptown Marysville," he said. "That is a $7-million investment the city is making. It is definitely going to be a catalyst for growth and development."
The downs, however, include empty storefronts and struggling businesses. Phillips said it was just a few years ago the Uptown area had a higher rate of occupancy than it does today.
He places partial blame on the economy but said Marysville's proximity to Columbus has hurt local "mom-and-pop" shops.
"There's a lot of competition out there. We need to make sure our residents stay here, stay home. Getting our residents to spend money locally is extremely important," he said.
Residents have complained about parking availability in Uptown Marysville, but Phillips said there is plenty of parking.
Sometimes, he said, it's a matter of perception.
"It's more of an accessibility problem," he said. "When we go to a big-box retailer or the mall, we typically park and walk straight to the door. In the historic downtown area, you have to go around buildings to get to the door."