New Albany News

City earmarks $2.5M to fund business-park improvements

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

New Albany officials are requesting the release of $2.5 million from the economic-development fund for improvements to one of the city's business parks.

The economic-development fund is held by the New Albany Community Authority.

City Manager Joseph Stefanov on Feb. 4 told New Albany City Council the money would be used for the following projects at the Personal Care and Beauty Campus at Beech Road north of state Route 161:

* $700,000 to add streetlights and street trees on Smith's Mill Loop Road.

* $600,000 to extend the sanitary-sewer system and the graywater system on Smith's Mill Loop Road.

* $250,000 to build a COTA park and ride.

* $900,000 to design the Blacklick sanitary trunk line, which eventually will serve the campus.

* $50,000 for fiber-optics improvements on Smith's Mill Loop Road.

Council approved a resolution 6-0 to request funds from the economic-development fund for the projects. Councilman Mike Mott was absent.

Stefanov said street trees and lighting were not installed when the loop road was constructed and the improvements -- including the sanitary, water and fiber-optics extensions -- would complete the infrastructure.

The improvements also could help promote future development.

"The extension of the Smith's Mill Road infrastructure will facilitate development interest in the land that is located between the south leg of the Smith's Mill Loop and state Route 161," according to City Council's legislative report.

Stefanov said the Blacklick sanitary trunk line would be needed to serve the park in the next five to six years and he would like to begin design so the line can be extended when the city needs it.

The city of Columbus provides water and sewer service to New Albany and has agreed to extend the Blacklick sanitary line to Morse Road by 2017, Stefanov said.

New Albany would need to extend it from Morse Road into the campus, he said.

The COTA bus stop also will serve the campus and its businesses, which include Accel, Alene Candles, Anomatic Corp., Arminak and Associates, Axium Plastics, Exhibit Pro, the Jeyes Group, the Knowlton Development Corp., Sonoco Plastics and Vee Pak.

In 2013, the city requested and received approval to use $5.15 million from the economic-development fund for three projects in the Personal Care and Beauty campus: to widen Beech Road from Jug Street south to Smith's Mill Loop Road; add a second water tower and a second water line; and extend fiber-optics lines in the campus to loop and connect with other fiber lines so that if one line has an interruption in service, the campus would not lose service.

The money also was used to extend Zarley Street to Forest Drive and connect businesses in the Zarley Industrial Park to medical uses on Forest Drive.

The economic-development fund was created before the business parks were developed with help from local businessman Leslie Wexner, said New Albany spokesman Scott McAfee.

The city issued bonds to install infrastructure in the business parks and Wexner backed the debt with a letter of credit.

The city is paying off the debt with income-tax revenue. Thirty percent of income-tax revenue from the business parks is sent to the New Albany Community Authority, which was created by Wexner and his development company, the New Albany Co., McAfee said.

McAfee said the debt for the business parks was structured so that the money in the economic-development fund is used "for projects only within the business park and must also encourage growth within the park itself."

He said the economic-development fund is not related to the community authority's 4.75-mill property-tax assessment, which is collected from 16 residential neighborhoods, the New Albany Country Club communities and about 27 businesses, according to the community authority website.

Those funds are used to pay off debt incurred in the late 1990s to build Fodor Road, improve the Plain Township fire station and build parts of New Albany High School.

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