Westerville News & Public Opinion

Road extension

Gemini Place could push east through old Polaris Amphitheater site

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A proposal to extend Gemini Place through the former Germain Amphitheater site could spur future development while relieving Polaris-area traffic congestion.

Nancy Burton, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation, said the state is engaged in ongoing talks with area property owners, Delaware County and the cities of Columbus and Westerville about the proposed improvement. She said ODOT has committed $2.5 million in funding to the project.

A preliminary concept map of the project shows Gemini Place extending northeast from its current terminus at Orion Place, just east of Interstate 71. The road extension, which would feature two lanes running east and west with a center turn lane, would travel through the former amphitheater site before connecting with the intersection of East Powell and Worthington roads.

Burton said that, while the parties have been discussing the extension for more than a year, no timeline has been set for the project.

"Funding is not established yet, so it's kind of hard to talk about a timeline," she said.

Preliminary design work has not been completed, so it's also difficult to predict a final cost for the project, she said.

Polaris 91 LLC owns the 80-acre-plus site that previously housed Germain Amphitheater, a concert venue that opened as Polaris Amphitheater in 1994. It closed in 2007.

Franz Geiger, a partner in Polaris 91 LLC, said construction on the extension could start in 2015 -- if everything goes right. Geiger also is the managing director of N.P. Limited Partnership, the developer of the Polaris Centers of Commerce.

"There's just a lot of coordination because there's a lot of moving parts," he said. "My feeling is it's moving in the right direction."

No end use has been finalized for the former amphitheater site, but Geiger envisions a mixed-use development featuring office, retail and apartments.

"I (also) could see a health-care facility of some sort or, possibly, a car dealership," he said.

Geiger said the property owners have agreed to provide 10 to 13 acres of the site's property as right of way for the extension. He said the land donation would equal a contribution of almost $3 million to the project.

Geiger said the extension would "help the area overall" and is "not just a Polaris improvement."

"Could we develop (the property) without the road improvement? Absolutely," he said.

Even if future development brought new traffic to the area, Burton said the project still would achieve ODOT's goal by creating a parallel route to Polaris Parkway east of Interstate 71.

"It would ease congestion even if there was development on that road," she said.

The project also likely would include widening work on Powell and Worthington roads to accommodate the new intersection with Gemini Place.

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