Pickerington City Council this month will consider allowing a private developer to build an indoor soccer complex on Refugee Road.

Pickerington City Council this month will consider allowing a private developer to build an indoor soccer complex on Refugee Road.

Council is expected to hear a first reading April 20 of legislation to approve a rezoning and final development plan for a 115,000-square-foot soccer complex with four indoor soccer fields.

Homestead Development Co. received approvals last month from the Pickerington Planning and Zoning Commission to rezone land along Refugee Road just west of Hill Road Plaza from residential to a planned community commercial district for the project.

The land currently is owned by the Ebright family.

The planning and zoning commission also approved the company's final development plan, which calls for the approximately $3-million indoor complex to be built behind the former Big Bear shopping center.

"We've revised some of our projections upward and we think the soccer complex is going to be closer to $3-million now," said Aaron Underhill, an attorney for Homestead. "(My clients) conducted a study which determined Pickerington has the second-largest market for youth soccer in central Ohio, behind Dublin.

"Now, many of those kids go places like Easton to play because there aren't adequate facilities in Pickerington," he said.

If approved by council, the first phase of the project likely would be completed sometime next year and would include construction of the indoor soccer complex. Underhill said the complex is expected to be rented to the Pickerington Area Soccer Association for indoor leagues and other activities.

Additional phases of the project call for construction of a 65,000-square-foot, $9-million office development just south of the soccer complex and a 28,000-square-foot commercial development that could house stores and restaurants fronting Refugee Road. Construction costs are estimated at $5-million to $5.5-million.

"The city encourages office development because, in general, we anticipate it will generate more income tax revenue than other uses," said Susan Crotty, Pickerington's development director. "We support any new business opportunities, and with the office development, we think there is a market for that here and it also benefits the city."

City officials have said the proposed project would expedite the need to install extra turn lanes to both Refugee and state Route 256.

"The improvements would provide access to this site and be consistent with the city's thoroughfare plan," said Lance Schultz, Pickerington's director of planning and zoning.

Homestead officials have offered to fund those improvements, as well as at least a portion of the planned extension of Windmiller Drive to Stonecreek Drive.

However, in return for financing the road improvements, the company is seeking a tax-increment financing agreement with the city where it would pay for the infrastructure improvements in lieu of property taxes.

Pickerington City Council's finance committee is expected to discuss the proposed TIF during its April 7 meeting.

"There's been a lot of support in the community for this project," Underhill said. "This will provide an amenity for the city that wouldn't be there if it had to be publicly funded."


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