Olentangy Valley News

Pre-annexation pact clears way for Wedgewood Target

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The proposed Shoppes at Wedgewood, with a Target store as its anchor, is one step closer to calling Powell home after City Council approved a pre-annexation agreement at its Sept. 3 meeting.

An annexation would move 49 acres of land on Sawmill Parkway from Liberty Township into the city. On that land, DCR Development LLC plans to build a Target store and adjoining retail space, along with seven outlots that could be used for more retail space. On an adjacent piece of land, the developer has plans for a Mount Carmel Health system urgent care center.

Because the development plan was originally zoned in Liberty Township and approved by its Zoning Commission in June, Powell City Manager Steve Lutz said the development will be built regardless of resident aversion to big box stores.

On the same land in 2004, Davidson Phillips Inc. attempted to develop a Walmart, but because of opposition, the township denied its zoning application and spent seven years and millions of dollars fighting a losing legal battle.

"It's going in one way or the other so we might as well have the whole community benefit from it as much as possible," Lutz said.

According to Lutz, Target's estimated payroll will be $3 million and its estimated real property tax value is $9 million. The real property tax value of the urgent care center is estimated at $4.6 million, he said.

Although he couldn't give exact numbers as to how the tax base would be affected, Lutz pointed out that the annexed land would become part of the Sawmill Parkway Tax Increment Financing District.

Designated property taxes generated by the improvements in the TIF district are redirected to fund infrastructure improvements within the TIF boundaries. Lutz said the Target development would add an estimated $1.2 million to the Sawmill TIF fund.

That money could be used for Sawmill beautification projects and is currently being used to fund the installation of a traffic light at Sawmill and Galloway drives.

As part of the pre-annexation agreement, Powell has agreed to reimburse Wedgewood developers $500,000 of the $900,000 that they plan to spend on infrastructure improvements. The reimbursement would come over time from the TIF fund.

Although Sawmill Parkway improvements would benefit the entire area, Liberty Township leaders have voiced concern that Powell TIF agreements are having a negative impact on services funded through tax levies, specifically the fire department.

Because of that, this will be the first TIF agreement that will keep township taxes intact.

"The way this annexation has been structured is that the Liberty Township Fire Department would be made completely whole on the TIF and they would not lose any money out of it," Lutz said. "The township has faced some difficulties in recent years funding their fire department and this would not add to their burden at all."

All Powell TIF agreements have exempted the Olentangy Local School District as well.

With council's vote, the pre-annexation agreement was sent to the Delaware County Commissioners. If they approve it, a final annexation agreement will come before council.

Once approved, developer David Ruma said Target would like to break ground immediately in anticipation of a November 2014 opening.

There are no immediate plans to begin development on the urgent-care center and there are no definite contracts on the outlots, Ruma said.

The additional retail space that will be attached to Target hasn't been spoken for, either, but Ruma said it will be constructed simultaneously with the store.

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