Worthington News

TIF to fund new storm sewer beneath Fresh Thyme store

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Worthington will help pay for a storm-sewer replacement beneath the new grocery store planned for 933 High St.

The funding will come from a tax-increment-financing deal approved by Worthington City Council on Monday, July 7.

The 10-year, 75-percent TIF is not a tax break. Instead, 75 percent of real estate taxes due to the city will go into a fund to reimburse InSite Real Estate to remove existing sewer lines and build new ones beneath the planned Fresh Thyme Farmers Market.

The new grocery store is planned for the site currently occupied by a 1970s-built office building that will be demolished.

City staff also said Monday that they are offering assistance to existing occupants who are looking to relocate.

The parcel-type TIF is the smallest allowed by state law.

The Worthington City Schools will be paid the same amount of property tax that would be due without a TIF.

The money collected in the city's TIF will pay for the sewer replacement up to a cost of $110,000. Any additional funds will go toward city improvements that directly would improve the Fresh Thyme site. An example would be a pedestrian crossing in front of the store, according to a memo from Jeffry Harris, of the city's economic-development department.

Also on Monday, council approved the city's first award through its newly created Re-Emergent Corridor Assistance Program, which is a facade-improvement grant designed to induce private commercial property owners and tenants to make exterior improvements to businesses along Huntley and Proprietors roads.

That corridor has many older buildings that lag behind comparable properties elsewhere in central Ohio because of declining investments and depressed leasing rates, according to Harris.

The first-half grant/half loan of $15,000 went to Kolbe Construction Services to improve the exterior at 6520 Huntley Road.

Council tabled a ReCAP application from ERJV Properties for a $25,000 award for exterior improvements to the former Worthington Foods grocery store and storage building at 966 Proprietors Road. The building is now the site of KJ Toolkits.

Council member Scott Myers said the building has been an eyesore since Worthington Foods left.

"We are going to get a big bang for our buck," he said.

The problem is that the owner is in negotiations with the abutting Ohio Railway Museum over possible encroachment issues.

Council members said they want to learn more about the problem before approving the ReCAP award.

Myers said he hopes to hear from the owners at next week's council meeting so the money could be available prior to council's August recess.

In other matters Monday, council:

• Approved spending $1,450,000 to replace the roof at the Worthington Community Center. The contract went to Nations Roof of Ohio and was approved as an emergency so that work could begin immediately.

• Approved an amendment to the development plan for an apartment complex under construction next to the Shops at Worthington Place. A variance will allow a transformer to encroach into a sideyard setback; for roof-top deck lighting; and for the conversion of a planned dog park into an area with curved sidewalks, benches and plantings.

• Voted to support the transfer of an existing liquor permit in Ashtabula County to Harold's American Grille, which is the name of the restaurant being developed by local architect and building owner Harold "Sam" Baker at 673 High St.

To purchase the permit, the owner must be supported by the city with a statement that the permit has an economic-development purpose.

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