Upper Arlington News

Town hall meeting

UA goes to bat for its development plans at services center


City officials and a volunteer facilitator last weekend provided additional information regarding two informal proposals to develop professional offices on the site of the Upper Arlington Municipal Services Center at a town hall meeting.

According to information provided by the city, 22 people attended the town hall meeting on Saturday, June 21, to discuss development proposals for roughly 1.3 acres near "the Point" at the MSC.

Several were residents of the Trouville condominium community, which neighbors the MSC. Others were representatives of the Committee to Overturn MSC Rezoning, which is circulating petitions in hopes of placing a referendum about the city's plans on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Upper Arlington resident Bill DiMascio was among those who told city leaders Saturday he doesn't like the idea of turning city-owned land near the MSC into commercial space.

"Putting this kind of development on public property is like putting up a coffee shop or drive-through on the White House lawn," he said.

Two informal proposals for the site were presented at the town hall meeting. Trivium Development LLC wants to build a 36,000-square-foot medical office building. Daimler Group Inc. and Kohr Royer Griffith are proposing a 40,000-square-foot office building.

Estimates are that the Daimler project would generate approximately $160,000 to $240,000 in annual revenue for the city, while the Trivium project is estimated to generate approximately $118,000 to $166,000 per year, according to information provided by the city.

Upper Arlington's city budget is several million dollars shy, but DiMascio said development won't be enough to cover the gap.

"It's not going to make that up by developing," he said. "It would take 35 additional buildings like this to come anywhere close to the 5 million. That's not going to happen."

Not everyone who attended the town hall meeting is opposed to the ideas presented.

"You don't take children to play in the middle of an intersection," resident Marianne Mitchell said. "There's not playground equipment there, walls or fences to keep the children away from the intersection."

However, the city's plans to develop the site could be delayed if a citizens group is successful in getting a referendum on the November ballot. City officials noted there is a 30-day window for residents to file a petition for a referendum on the issue, and since no preferred developer for the site has been chosen, nothing will happen there between now and the July 9 petition deadline.

If enough valid signatures are collected to force the referendum, no development project could proceed until after the November vote, according to city information.

City officials said neither Trivium nor the Daimler group has requested tax abatements. However, information provided by the city indicated Daimler's proposal currently seeks the use of tax increment financing to help cover the costs for some of the "required public improvements, such as the parking lot expansion and proposed new entrance."

City Manager Ted Staton will recommend a preferred developer for the site July 9 to the Upper Arlington Community Improvement Corp. (CIC), a 13-member advisory panel that includes Staton and three city council members.

The findings of the city staff and the CIC will be submitted to council after its summer recess, and it's expected that one of the developers will be asked to submit formal plans to be reviewed so an actual construction project could be launched.

WBNS-10TV contributed to this story.