Grove City Mayor Ike Stage began his remarks at the annual State of the City breakfast May 4 stating that Grove City is the only central Ohio community recognized twice as the area's Best Hometown by Ohio Magazine.

He ended it by emphasizing the city's goal.

"We want to be central Ohio's Best Hometown year after year," Stage said. "That is where we are headed."

In between, Stage reviewed past accomplishments, current projects and future plans which he said are propelling Grove City to "amazing" heights.

"We're now the largest suburb within Franklin County with nearly 40,000 residents," he said.

The city has more than 14,000 living units and more than 25,000 employment opportunities, Stage said.

"We've been the No. 1 suburb in new-housing starts eight of the last 10 years," he said. "Housing sales are also up."

Home sales in Grove City grew from 764 in 2015 to 804 last year, a 5.2 percent increase. The median sale price increased 5.3 percent, from $175,500 to $185,000.

"It exemplifies the diversity (of housing) we have in our community," Stage said.

Non-residential development also is booming, he said.

Over the last five years, the city has seen about $436 million in non-residential building projects, Stage said. Last year, 43 projects with a total valuation of about $303 million were underway or completed.

Two areas of peak development in Grove City are hotels/motels and medical facilities.

Grove City has two hospitals under construction with Mount Carmel expanding its Grove City campus and OhioHealth building a 22-acre campus, Stage said.

With the addition of Candlewood Suites, the city's first extended stay hotel, and a Courtyard by Marriott and a new Hilton Twin Hotel, the city will have 1,775 hotel/motel rooms by the end of 2017, Stage said. Only Dublin and Columbus have more lodging, he said.

More than 350 units of senior housing are slated to open this year.

"It's what I call transitional housing," Stage said. "We want to be a lifetime community for people."

The first residents have moved into the new Broadway Station apartment complex in the Town Center, he said. A promenade connects the apartments to the new Grove City Library "which has been hugely successful" with increases in visitors and registrations for library cards, he said.

A rezoning application for the Beulah Park redevelopment project was submitted May 1.

The development plan for the project is still being finalized, but the redevelopment will include empty-nester condominiums, public space, assisted living, upscale housing and connectivity to the Town Center and the west side, Stage said.

Safety remains a priority, Stage said.

"If people don't feel comfortable in your community, you have a problem," he said.

The Grove City Division of Police received accreditation for the sixth time from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Stage said, and the Jackson Township Fire Department is ranked among the top 1.5 percent of fire departments in the country by the Insurance Services Office.

But there is a reality "that is gut-wrenching," Stage said.

Grove City, like nearly every other community, is dealing with an opiate and heroin crisis, he said.

Ninety percent of cases involving theft in Grove City Mayor's Court are directly related to drug use, Stage said.

A public forum, held on the same day as the State of the City breakfast, offered community members information about opiate use and human trafficking and how they can help.

Stage said the theme for his speech was "Treasuring the past while building the future."

The past will be celebrated when the Grant Homestead on Haughn Road is dedicated as a living museum on July 1, he said.

At the same time, the city is building for its future with its GroveCity2050 plan, Stage said. Results from the study will be presented later this summer to city council.

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