Officials with Delaware County and Berkshire Township say they are excited by plans for a $2 billion, 350-acre entertainment-based development near the interchange of Interstate 71 and U.S. Route 36/state Route 37.
But before construction can start, they said, the project will require a detailed government planning process involving several agencies.
Developer Blue Horseshoe Ventures announced the Planet Oasis project June 28, along with partners representing several of the planned attractions. The site is adjacent to the Tanger Outlet Mall on the east side of I-71 in Berkshire Township.
The plan calls for attractions including a "world-class" skate park, a BMX racing facility, a wellness retreat and a man-made saltwater lake with a sand beach, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
Those announcing the development said it eventually would have about 15,000 workers. Site work is set to begin in December and the first phase would open about a year later.
Berkshire Township Trustee Bill Holtry said he has "been the lead trustee in hearing about this project. We were informed of it about three months ago."
He said the location tentatively had been proposed as a site for a large truck terminal. He called Planet Oasis a much better idea.
The project would earn "millions of dollars in taxes for our township and (Big Walnut) schools. As estimated, over $550 million in taxes will be generated over 20 years for the county, schools and township. (The) county and schools will get the lion's share," he said.
Zoning for the project is in place, Holtry said, and has been "since the 80 percent approval of the revitalization district passed a few years ago by the voters."
When such large developments are proposed, he said, it's often not a question of whether they will be built. The question, instead, is which government subdivision will control the land. If Berkshire Township does not work with developers, he said, their option is to annex to Sunbury, resulting in "loss of land, taxes and control" for Berkshire.
"We're excited to see the private sector make more investment in that area," said Delaware County Economic Development Director Bob Lamb. "It's a great area for future investment, particularly in the entertainment and sports areas. ... We are a premier community. We think these types of projects want to locate in Delaware County."
County officials had "a couple of initial meetings" with the developers a few weeks ago, he said.
He said the county's review of project plans would focus mostly on infrastructure and site plans. The plans also will be reviewed by the county engineer, the Ohio Department of Transportation and possibly the Delaware County Regional Planning Commission.
The development process has "a lot of different moving parts," Lamb said.
"We hope to receive plans as soon as possible so we can begin our government review process," he said. "It's a doable time frame if they are ready to move through the process quickly and efficiently."
Asked if the county would have housing available for the 15,000 workers Planet Oasis plans to hire, Lamb said the project would attract workers from the region, not Delaware County alone.
"We've had one meeting with the consultants from the Planet Oasis project," Delaware County Engineer Chris Bauserman said July 2, "to discuss the scope of a traffic impact study that will be required for the project. The developer is required to prepare the (study). My office and ODOT will both evaluate the study. As of today, no (study) has been submitted. We don't have any information on the timing or schedule of any improvements at this point."
Holtry said ODOT also plans a new I-71 exit, roughly 4,000 feet south of Routes 36/37.
He said Planet Oasis officials understand both exits "would have to be involved in the evolution of this project. It's estimated it will take three to four years to build the project, including exit improvements."
In addition to other funding sources, Holtry said, Planet Oasis developers are virtually assured to be required to contribute to the costs of I-71 exit work, "which is standard procedure today."
ODOT District 6 spokesperson Nancy Burton referred ThisWeek Delaware News to a website describing future exit and route plans along that section of I-71.
She said the plans were prepared before Planet Oasis announced its intentions.
Holtry said Planet Oasis "will generate entertainment with a bowling alley, movie theater and eventually Broadway plays, along with entertainment venues similar to House of Blues."
It would feature "lots of additional shops and restaurants and a proposed vertical roller coaster and Ferris wheel, with thousands of hotel rooms and parking.
It also (would include) two six-lane exits and road improvements surrounding the venue," he added.
The Planet Oasis website is planetoasis.fun.