Grove City Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage says he is as enthusiastic about 2018 as he was about 2017.
"This past year has been great," he said. "And 2018 is going to be exciting for Grove City. "There's going to be a lot happening."
Perhaps the most significant project will be Mount Carmel Health System's new 210-bed hospital, which is expected to open in November on North Meadows Drive. The $355 million project includes an expanded emergency department and a five-story medical-office building.
OhioHealth also has plans to open a three-story hospital with 20 inpatient beds and six observation beds on Stringtown Road, east of Interstate 71.
"Those two projects have led to a number of other medical office and service projects coming to the city," Stage said. "There's a great synergism that results when you have large developments like this."
Grove City's "ideal centralized location," with easy access to interstates, affordable land prices and an "outstanding workforce," has made the community attractive for the hospitals and other development, Stage said.
"It makes sense that we would be a hot spot for medical facilities," council president Roby Schottke said. "Our location makes us convenient for a lot of people who live in outlying areas and don't want to have to go all the way downtown for medical care."
The hospital openings are particularly satisfying, Stage said, because they are helping to fulfill a vision the city set a quarter-century ago.
"Our vision was to make Grove City a full-service community," he said. "That included offering all levels of housing from entry level to higher-price homes; providing outstanding recreational opportunities; major retail availability; being fully connected, which we are doing with our fiber-optic project; and offering outstanding medical facilities.
"We're very, very close to being the kind of full-service community we envisioned," Stage said. "The only thing we're missing is a standalone higher-education institution."
Grove City is now the largest suburb located entirely in Franklin County and the second-largest in central Ohio, he said.
"Yet I think we've maintained our hometown feel," Stage said.
It's a community where people want to live and, increasingly, want to stay, he said.
In addition to the hospitals, two hotels will open their doors in 2018.
A Hilton Dual Brands hotel with 182 rooms will open at I-71 and Stringtown Road and an 82-room Comfort Suites also will open on Stringtown.
The hotels will increase Grove City's hotel/motel roster to 16 locations offering more than 1,700 rooms.
As with the hospitals, Grove City's convenient location to downtown Columbus and access to highways are draws for hotel developers, Stage said.
"There's also a synergy here, because as you open more hotels, it leads to more sit-down restaurants and retail outlets opening," he said.
"Being a southern gateway to the Columbus market, Grove City is an ideal location for hotels, especially with the improvements being made to I-71," Schottke said. "I wouldn't be surprised to see some hotels spring up along (state Route) 665, too."
City Council's approval in December of a preliminary plan for the Beulah Park redevelopment and funding for the Columbus Street Extension to support the development will continue progress in 2018 on a final plan for the site, Stage said.
"Those (were) key votes," he said. "We'll be working with the developer on the plans for the Beulah project."
"To me, one of the highlights of 2018 will be seeing what the actual development plan for Beulah Park is going to be," Schottke said. "The redevelopment of Beulah Park is going to be so important for the city. It's going to lead to other development springing up in the surrounding area."
The city will work on completing expansion of bike trails from the Town Center to Fryer Park, Breck Park to the west and to Scioto Grove Metro Park during the coming year, Stage said.
"The bike trails are another component to being a full-service community," he said.
Schottke said one of his wishes for 2018 is that the city explore with the Central Ohio Transit Authority the feasibility of creating a commuter bus line to downtown along I-71.
"Why couldn't we use the reinforced berms on I-71 to allow bus service to downtown Columbus?" he asked. "They do something similar on I-670 where they allow buses to run along the left shoulder lane."
Many residents would appreciate the convenience of a park- and-ride service to downtown, Schottke said.