Whitehall News

Priority Designs incentive deal heads to council for approval

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Whitehall City Council on Nov. 5 was expected to approve an economic development agreement with Priority Designs.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Gahanna-based firm would move to the former Bill Swad Chevrolet dealership at 100 S. Hamilton Road and invest about $2.5 million in site improvements.

Priority Designs will purchase the 5.5-acre site from the city of Whitehall for $475,000.

The city purchased the site for $1 million about two years ago, but development director Zach Woodruff said the city should more than recoup the upfront loss in selling the property, saying he believes the buyer's investment would increase the tax value of the land significantly. He also said the company must increase its payroll as part of the agreement.

"This is a great (deal) for us," Woodruff said. "It will have a significant impact on continuing revitalization."

The agreement would provide Priority Designs with a 50-percent income-tax-withholding incentive for six years.

Priority Designs must have a total annual payroll of $4.3 million upon entering into the agreement. The minimum total payroll increases slightly each year and must be at least $5.1 million by the sixth and final year of the incentive.

Priority Designs must remain in Whitehall at least 10 years and have annual payroll of at least $5.8 million in the 10th year.

The agreement provides for the company to achieve an aggregate minimum payroll if it fails to reach a benchmark in a given year. The incentive agreement is valued at $360,000 for Priority Designs, Woodruff said.

Priority Designs is expected to close on the property no later than Feb. 4, 2014.

Priority Designs would leave a 25,000-square-foot facility in Gahanna for the new 49,000-square-foot Whitehall site, which has been vacant for about five years.

"Priority Designs is the first significant investment by a private company in the recent past," Woodruff said, "and, we believe, is a catalyst for future similar growth."

Priority Designs is a product design firm with 55 employees and an approximate annual payroll of $4 million.

Electrolux, Lowe's and Nike Golf are among its corporate clients. Paul Kolada founded the company that first opened in 1990 in Bexley.

Council also was expected to approve legislation authorizing the expenditure of $128,000 from the city's law-enforcement trust fund for the renovation of the property room at the Whitehall Division of Police.

Council's meeting was held after ThisWeek's press time. Check ThisWeekNEWS.com for updates or read the Nov. 14 edition.

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