Commercial property owners are looking to the city to help pay for building improvements aimed at retaining an important business tenant.

Commercial property owners are looking to the city to help pay for building improvements aimed at retaining an important business tenant.

The Upper Arlington Community Improvement Corp. voted July 19 to recommend soliciting additional bids for renovations at 2128 Arlington Ave. in response to a request for a large business grant.

The CIC also recommended the property owners, Mike and Connie Ballenger, look for and pursue historical preservation funds or other grants the project might qualify for.

The Ballengers, under their company name Micon Properties Ltd., had requested support for renovations to help retain Jump Legal, which has sought the renovations as a condition for extending its lease.

The building was constructed in 1930, according to records from the Franklin County Auditor's Office.

"It's one of the oldest buildings in Upper Arlington, and we've owned it for 16 years," Mike Ballenger said.

Proposed renovations included replacing 31 second-story windows and painting the exterior of the building. The cost is estimated to be $48,000.

Community and Economic Development Manager Bob Lamb said Upper Arlington has assisted with remodeling buildings in the past but now is focusing on historic and/or aging buildings that might help spur redevelopment.

"The city supports redevelopment in the area and we're happy to provide financial assistance," he said.

Connie Ballenger said the payroll generated by Jump Legal is around $1 million, and Mike Ballenger said it would be very hard to find a replacement tenant.

"There's only so much we can do as independent landlords," Connie Ballenger said.

The Ballengers also said business suffered in recent years due to road work along Arlington Avenue.

"We really did suffer a lot of loss from the last two years of road construction," Connie Ballenger said. "It was several thousands of dollars in lost rent unfilled."

In the last few years, she said they lost three tenants -- Fireflies and Fairy Tales, Salon Images and Over My Head -- and trade at her own business in the building, Leal Boutique, was down 70 percent during construction.

"You had to park (far away) and walk to get here, or the streets were so torn up," she said. "We lost a tremendous amount of drive-by business."

The vacant spaces, she said, were only recently filled at reduced rates.

Water line and storm drainage work was done in 2010 while the road itself was rebuilt in 2011.

"The roadwork needed to be done," Assistant City Manager Joe Valentino said. "The city is sympathetic the roadwork was a hardship, but that's not why we're giving incentives."

Valentino said Upper Arlington still has a desire to make landscaping and other investments in the Mallway, but money is tight and the work will be done as money becomes available.

"It is a place we want to see thrive," he said.

The CIC will consider the matter again at its Aug. 2 meeting. If the CIC recommends incentives for the project, final approval would have to come from city council.