Worthington News

Governing Worthington

As year progressed, so did city's development

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Development ruled the news in Worthington this year.

For the first time in many years, economic growth, new businesses and plans for even more business were the norm.

The top story, of course, was the reconstruction of the Interstate 270-U.S. Route 23 interchange. After decades in the discussion and planning stages, the project finally was started in September.

The next most important story was the planning for two apartment buildings that are expected to bring nearly 200 units to West Wilson Bridge Road, on the Shops at Worthington Place site.

The building along the road also will include office space, the first Class A office space to be added to Worthington in many years.

The project is the largest new building project the city has seen since the 1970s, when the office buildings along West Wilson Bridge Road were constructed.

Five of those buildings were purchased this year by a Canadian firm, in a move city economic development manager Jeff Harris is optimistic eventually will be good for the city.

Planning for future redevelopment also was high in importance to the city. Consultants from MKSK took the lead in planning for the United Methodist Children’s Home site.

The firm will make a recommendation for an update to the city’s comprehensive plan early in 2014.

The Harding Hospital site, which could be redeveloped at some point, was sold to Step By Step Academy, which plans to expand its services to people with autism.

Other new businesses in 2013 include Dewey’s Pizza, Jet’s Pizza, Piada, Haddad Oriental Rugs, Schreiner Ace Hardware and Sassafras Bakery.

The losing side of the economic equation was the closing of Blue Frost Cupcakes and Emlolly, small shops in downtown Worthington.

The city ended the year with perhaps its greatest loss, as Worthington City Council President Lou Goorey retired. He has been on council for 40 years, and his retirement was lamented by many.

The following is a month-by-month rundown of major stories throughout the year:

 

January

• More than 50 exhibitors lined the mall at the Shops at Worthington Place for the first health and fitness fair, sponsored by the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, on Jan. 10.

• Five office buildings along the Wilson Bridge corridor were purchased by a Canada-based investment firm. City economic development manager Jeff Harris said he was encouraged by the firm’s interest.

• Jet’s Pizza applied for a permit to open in the former Scottie MacBean location at 660 High St. The pizzeria opened in August.

• Haddad Oriental Rugs announced plans to move into the former Moody’s Paper Store, 559 High St.

 

February

• The historic buildings that house the New England Lodge were offered for sale because the local Masons no longer could afford to maintain them. The oldest part of the building, at 634 High St., was built in 1820.

The buildings remained for sale at the end of the year.

• Revised plans were introduced for two apartment buildings at the Shops at Worthington Place. Eventually approved, plans call for approximately 200 apartments.

The building that will face West Wilson Bridge Road on the former James Tavern site will be up to six stories, with office space on the first floor. The second, four-story building will be on the northwest side of the mall. Construction began in early fall.

• Schreiner Ace Hardware opened in the old CVS building at 926 High St.

 

March

The old BP gas station at East New England Avenue and High Street was demolished to make way for Dewey’s Pizza. The restaurant, which opened in August, includes a public outdoor seating area.

• Two downtown sweet spots – Blue Frost Cupcakes and Emlolly, a candy shop – closed.

 

April

• An unanticipated increase in the cost of resurfacing High Street resulted in fewer streets on the list for resurfacing during the summer.

• The annual Precycle Day moved from Wednesday and Thursday to Saturday to take advantage of move residents being accessible on the weekend.

• Lt. Michael Dougherty retired following 40 years with the Worthington Division of Police. Dougherty was well-known for his candor and humor.

• Will people or companies have their names on signs and uniforms or even buildings in the near future?

Worthington City Council decided the issues were too complex to decide without more time to mull the effects.

• Earle and Elizabeth Wathen won the city’s Good Neighbor Award.

• Green was the theme of Reds, Whites and Desserts, held April 26 at the Bridgewater and Conference Center. The affair is a fundraising gala for the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce.

• The Worthington Park Library was scheduled to expand into two adjoining storefronts at the Worthington Park Shopping Center. Services were limited until the larger facility opened in December.

• A Franklin County common-pleas judge ruled in favor of Worthington City Council’s decision to not permit two one-story buildings to be constructed immediately south of CVS, 910 High St.

MK&K Realty later appealed the court decision, but it was upheld.

• Plans were announced to renovate the old Outdoor Education Center, which sits along the Olentangy River, west of Thomas Worthington High School. The school district, city and several community organizations planned to work together on the project.

• Sassafras Bakery made plans to move into the former Blue Frost Cupcake site at 657 High St.

 

May

• House Wine owner Donnie Austin was named Small Business Person of the Year by the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce.

 

 June

• Plans were announced to place a 2.2-mill replacement levy for the Worthington Libraries on the November ballot.

• Joe Davis was arrested by Worthington police on a charge of gross sexual imposition for allegedly inappropriately touching a 17-year-old girl who was working as an intern at his store, Worthington Jewelers. He is a member of Worthington City Council and a former Chamber of Commerce Small Business Person of the Year.

 

July

• The first steps were taken toward annexing 2.8 acres at the southwest corner of West Dublin-Granville and Linworth roads. By year’s end, the land was annexed from Perry Township, and a developer had inquired with the city about building a shopping center on the former Segna Motors site.

• Franklin County planning administrator Lee Brown was named the city’s first director of planning and building.

• City Council authorized the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission to study traffic along state Route 161, from Sawmill Road to state Route 315. Council is on record as opposing any widening of the road within the city.

 

August

• Worthington Pools celebrated its 60th anniversary.

• Worthington City Council President Lou Goorey announced he would not seek re-election in November. He served 40 years. Also missing from the list of announced candidates was Joe Davis.

Filing for election to council were incumbents Scott Myers and Rachael Dorothy; Dave Norstrom and Rob Schmidt, both of whom lost bids for election two years earlier; and newcomers Brian Seitz and Michael Troper. Seitz’s petition was not certified by the Franklin County Board of Elections, and Schmidt later withdrew from the election.

• Federal investigator Sandra Coke was murdered in California. She grew up in Worthington, graduating from Worthington High School in 1981.

• York Golf Club underwent construction of a redesign that was needed to make way for the widening of U.S. Route 23 as part of the I-270/Route 23 interchange project.

 

September

• After decades in the discussion and planning stages, reconstruction of the I-270/ Route 23 interchange finally began.

• Three write-in candidates were certified for the November election of two people to the Sharon Township trustees after the filing petitions of incumbent Linda Jarrett were ruled invalid. The names of incumbent John Oberle and challenger Phillip Smith were to be on the ballot. Both were elected.

 

October

• Residents objected to the removal of 91 osage orange trees along West Wilson Bridge Road. The trees will be removed when a bike path is constructed next year.

• Step By Step Academy began the process of purchasing the 45-acre former Harding Hospital. The academy plans to expand its services for people with autism.

• The city’s Standard & Poor’s bond rating improved from AA to AAA.

 

November

• John Oberle and Phillip Smith were elected to the Sharon Township board of trustees.

• The Worthington Libraries 2.2-mill replacement levy was approved by 71 percent of voters.

• Council learned that the roof on the Worthington Community Center’s 10-year-old addition was failing. Cost of replacement will be $1 million.

 

December

• The city and Perry Township took first steps toward forming a joint economic development zone (JEDZ), which would allow the township to improve business areas with money raised from income taxes.

• The former Segna Motors site was rezoned C-2 to allow for the construction of a shopping center.

• Consulting firm MKSK unveiled four scenarios for the redevelopment of the United Methodist Children’s Home site. Nearly 150 people attended a meeting to hear about the possibilities for redevelopment, which probably will include a mix of retail, offices, residential and green space.

• The community gathered to express its appreciation for Lou Goorey, who retired after 40 years on City Council.

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