West Side News

Extension comes down to dueling developers

Joe Ciminello wants high-end housing; Frank Kass won't reveal plans but says expensive housing won't work


The future of Beulah Park has become a contrast between two developers, but the one with the option to buy the property might not wait around for City Council to decide which option it prefers.

Continental Real Estate Cos. is in contract to purchase Beulah Park from Penn National Gaming and redevelop the 213-acre site.

"We had a plan that we were ready to submit," said Continental Founder and Chairman Frank Kass said. "What's going on right now doesn't make it possible to submit any plans."

On Aug. 4, Council President Ted Berry, Councilwoman Maria Klemack-McGraw and Councilman Steve Bennett said they favored a plan that would extend Columbus Street through part of the parcel set aside for the new Grove City Library and to tie it into Mill Street. The extension idea was presented earlier this year by Joe Ciminello, owner of Ciminello Inc., which developed the Pinnacle Golf Club and housing development, as part of a redevelopment vision for Beulah Park.

That vision, as Ciminello highlighted in a public meeting at the Grove City Masonic Lodge July 31, emphasizes connectivity between Beulah and the Town Center.

"We think the intersection of Columbus Street should be aligned on both sides and eliminate the offset of Mill Street," Ciminello said. "The idea is when you pull to Broadway (from Columbus Street), you would be invited in."

The discussion about an extension has delayed Continental's plans, and the company could drop the project rather than spend money on it if council decides to go with another plan that impacts Beulah, Kass said.

Kass, who previously said Beulah Park has enough connectivity without the Columbus Street extension, said Continental was set to begin making payments to Penn Gaming as it moved through the development process, but with a majority of council showing interest in another plan, Continental sent Penn a registered letter asking the contract be revised, he said. Continental but has not yet heard back from Penn National, he said Monday, Aug. 11.

"That's kind of where we are right now: nowhere," Kass said.

Kass declined to describe what his proposal for Beulah Park would have been, saying it's not a matter of "public record."

"We're a very market-driven company," Kass said. "We've always brought to the community what we think would be the best fit, and if the community disagrees, we go someplace else."

In his plan, Ciminello identifies mixed-use Beulah Park including 200 single-family homes, 800 multi-family units geared toward empty nesters and young professionals, civic space space around the old finish line and possibly a recreation center, although Ciminello said he couldn't promise one. What Ciminello doesn't want to bring, he said, are warehouses.

"The buzz word around the development industry is 'walkable' communities," he said. "Maybe this is something that can bring this community together. ... If you want the town center to thrive, you need to make it a desirable place to live."

Ciminello said the single-family homes could range in the $400,000-500,000 range and that he would be confident to bring a Parade of Homes, something Kass doubted.

"I assume he'll also be selling beachfront property with that," Kass said.

At the meeting, Ciminello said he knows Continental doesn't like his idea for Beulah, but he's excited about it. Until the property is bought, Ciminello said he wants to keep this option open.

Ciminello has no deal with Penn Gaming but said his company would be "blessed" to be involved with the redevelopment of Beulah Park.

"It changes the whole face," he said. "That's why we're so passionate about the plan."