City looks to help upgrade industrial buildings' facades
A drive down Huntley or Proprietors road is like traveling back to the 1970s. That is when most of the office and industrial buildings there were built.
An idea presented Sept. 13 could lead to major facade updates.
The city of Worthington is considering a program to assist the owners and tenants of those buildings in making the exterior improvements to strengthen the value of the community's office environment.
Under a program with the working title, ReCAP (Re-emergent Corridor Assistance Program), no- or low-cost matching loans would be made available for facade improvements along Huntley and Proprietors roads and along the commercial strip of Schrock Road within city limits.
The program is the idea of city economic development manager Jeff Harris, who presented his ideas to the city's Community Improvement Corp. on Sept. 13.
He will incorporate CIC members' ideas into the proposal and report back during their meeting in November. The program and funding must be ultimately approved by City Council but may be administered by the CIC.
The purpose of ReCAP is to improve the appearance of Worthington's industrial/office corridor, which, Harris said, is suffering from "age, obsolescence and disinvestment."
"We want to incent building owners to improve the facades and streetscapes," Harris said.
He showed the CIC before-and-after photos of one building that recently was updated.
"You get a series of these, and it makes the corridor look sharp," he said.
Building owners and tenants who are current on their real estate taxes on buildings constructed prior to 1980 would be eligible under his plan. Further eligibility criteria and details still must be decided.
Council must decide how much money would be made available in the program.
"I think the cost is going to be a lot higher than you think," CIC member Harvey Glick said.
He asked City Manager Matt Greeson if he expects the fund to be $25,000, $500,000 or $1 million.
"Not $500,000 or $1 million," Greeson said.
The fund could start modestly and grow as repaid loans are reinvested, CIC and council member Joe Davis said.
CIC member Tom Dalcolma said interest in office buildings in Worthington is improving, and a program like ReCAP could only help.
"There's a demand there," he said. "It's just a need to have properties ready to go."