Perhaps the most prominent theme of Grandview Heights Mayor Ray DeGraw's State of the City address was the call for residents to participate in the upcoming strategic planning process that will help shape the city's future.

"We need our residents and businesses to be involved and give their input," DeGraw said. "Their input is vital so that we know what the desires and needs of our community are."

The city plans to begin a series of public meetings in April, although the date for the kickoff meeting has not been determined, DeGraw said during his annual address March 15 at the Grand Event Center on Goodale Boulevard.

The process will be two-pronged, involving both a revision of a community plan and "campus" planning that will include an evaluation of land the city currently owns, he said.

Grandview's last community plan was adopted 20 years ago -- and it has served the city well, DeGraw said.

That plan envisioned the changes that would occur for the properties that now comprise the Grandview Yard development, including the land where the former Big Bear warehouse sat, he said.

Grandview and other innerbelt communities are facing the same kinds of issues, DeGraw said.

"A change in demographics is leading to a change in the characteristics people want," he said. "Building homes -- people often want to put dual homes on a lot.

"It's a good time to step back and take a look and see where our community is and what tools and zoning we need to manage change," DeGraw said.

The campus planning is being propelled by the city's purchase of a little more than 4 acres on McKinley Avenue in Columbus, where the service department and parks maintenance will be relocated.

The process will include evaluating the city's land and facilities, focusing on the properties at and along Goodale Boulevard and Grandview Avenue, including the Municipal Building, Wyman Woods, the Wallace Community Gardens, McKinley Field and the corner of Goodale and Grandview, where the service and parks department offices currently are located.

The parks department office and community center will remain at the corner, but with the impending move of the service department and parks maintenance operations, "we can look at that site as a clean slate," DeGraw said.

As part of the campus planning process, the city will evaluate "what are the desires and what are the needs of our community" relating to recreational, meeting and programming space and how that fits in with the city's facility and operational needs, including its city offices and police and fire departments, he said.

"We are going to need the community's involvement," DeGraw said. "As you see the process advance, please be a part of it."

Overall, the state of the city is strong, he said.

In 2005, Grandview had lost the highest percentage of jobs in the state, he said.

"Now, we're the fastest-growing city in central Ohio and we have the largest percentage increase in appraised value," DeGraw said. "Jobs are coming to the market. We are on a path for the long-range financial security for all of us: the schools, the library and the city."

Over the last few years, the city has invested more than $17 million in street and infrastructure improvements, he said.

"The amount of work City Council has authorized over these last few years is second to none," DeGraw said.

Private investment has totaled nearly $170 million and includes the Nationwide Insurance headquarters, apartments and for-sale residential units at Grandview Yard and the new Brexton headquarters on Goodale, he said.

At the end of 2017, there were about 3,840 jobs inside the Yard; another 1,450 jobs are expected to be added this year with a new two-story medical building and the move of more Nationwide employees to the area, DeGraw said.

About 68.5 acres of the 100-acre Yard site are developed or under construction, he said. Around 80 acres are programmed for development and an additional 15.5 acres south and west of the project are part of the tax-increment financing area and are prime for redevelopment, he said.

Other private projects on the horizon include the new High Banks Distillery that will open this year on Goodale Boulevard; the multiuse Grandview Crossing project that straddles Grandview and Columbus along Dublin Road; and the redevelopment of the former W.W. Williams building and adjacent property now owned by the Tri-W Group.

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