Westerville News & Public Opinion

Central College TIF eyed for parkland purchase

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In order to facilitate the creation of a new city park within a major new development in the Central College area, Westerville City Council plans to establish a Tax Increment Financing District on a portion of the property, located east of Sunbury Road and south of Central College Road.

The 28-acre park will lie along Big Walnut Creek at the eastern edge of "The Village at Central College," a major mixed-use project planned by the Casto development company.

In a TIF district, taxes on property improvements are diverted to fund infrastructure improvements.

The proposed 30-year Central College TIF would divert non-school district taxes on a portion of the 77.8-acre property to develop the site's infrastructure and purchase the parkland. Westerville City School District taxes would be unaffected.

The TIF district covers 23 acres of The Village at Central College planned for commercial development and 240 multifamily housing units. It does not encompass another 16.7-acre section, where 71 single-family homes are planned.

Westerville Assistant City Manager Julie Colley made it clear that the park was the main motivation for the TIF from the city.

"From the city's point of view, what we're hoping to gain from the TIF is the purchase of the parkland," Colley said, "and the development of that park for the benefit of the community."

The city estimates the TIF will capture $6 million in diverted tax revenue. Besides funding the purchase of a new city park, the TIF money will be used to benefit the developer as well.

"From the developer standpoint, it will provide some of the public infrastructure that the city is interested in them upscaling," she said. "We asked for one of roads (in the development) to remain public rather than private and a brick treatment on one of the roads, and this TIF helps with public infrastructure that will provide access."

An added bonus for the city comes from the site's sanitary sewer plans. Colley said the TIF will help pay for an extension of the sanitary sewer from its current terminus north through the property to Central College Road.

The new terminus will allow the city to use its own sewer for properties to the north, which it cannot currently reach.

With so much collaboration, Colley believes the deal is fair for all parties.

"Everybody receives some sort of benefit from this agreement," she said.

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