Violet Township's recent purchase of a 63-acre retreat on Blacklick-Eastern Road is expected to result in the relocation of the township's administrative offices by early 2019.
In June, Violet Township officials announced they had a contract in place to purchase the historic Wigwam retreat, 10190 Blacklick-Eastern Road NW, from Wolfe Enterprises, a business controlled by family members of late businessman and longtime Columbus Dispatch publisher John F. Wolfe.
The township plans to relocate its administrative offices from 12970 Rustic Drive to the Wigwam.
Those offices sit on 0.85 acre, were purchased by the township for $350,000 in July 1998 and house fewer than 10 employees.
The property is valued by the Fairfield County Auditor's Office at $411,180.
"We are looking at the first quarter of 2019," said John Eisel, Violet Township director of operations.
He said the township is working to develop required documents to retain architects to renovate the Wigwam site to accommodate the office relocation. He said the move should provide benefits to township officials and employees.
"It will locate us in the complex with the theater and large conference area so that we can monitor and assist with any events and provides access to a comprehensive government complex," Eisel said.
"There (also) is a designated space for (Violet Township board of) trustee meetings."
The $2.7 million deal, which included most of the property's furnishings and equipment, will enable the township to utilize a 303-seat theater for local arts programs, and a banquet hall that can accommodate up to 400 guests at the site will be available to rent for meetings, dance recitals, weddings and other events, Eisel said.
Although it's expected to offer myriad services and arts programs, the Wigwam won't be the site of a community center. Violet Township officials are trying to plan such a facility with input from the public.
"The acquisition of the Wigwam does not replace the community-center planning that is currently taking place," Eisel said.
"The only impact may be that included in the Wigwam is a theater and large meeting space that will not be required in the community center."
Township officials continue to work with community leaders and residents to determine if a levy or bond issue to fund such a project and ongoing operations might be placed on the November 2019 ballot, he said.
Eisel said the Wigwam property can't be used -- as-is -- for a community center.
Because of the Wigwam's building configurations and township plans to improve the area around the site -- including preserving trees, creating walking trails and building a shelter house -- it would be "very difficult" to locate a community center there, Eisel said.
The Wigwam could, however, be the new home for a Fairfield County Sheriff's Office substation that currently operates from a township-owned property at 4 E. Columbus St. in Olde Pickerington Village.
Eisel said the Wigwam would be a nicer facility for the substation and would provide more space and require less annual maintenance than the Olde Pickerington property.
"If we relocate, the (substation) property would be sold," he said.
The township also has plans to eventually develop 10.8 acres at the northern edge of the Wigwam site fronting Interstate 70 for mixed use, featuring offices and some service retail businesses.
Township development director Holly Mattei said a portion of the Wigwam site would be used for future economic development.
"It is also important to note, the northern 10.8 acres will be transferred to the Violet Township Port Authority for future economic-development opportunities," she said. "This will create a destination and convenient location for future office, commercial or mixed-use opportunities."
At present, Eisel said, there is no formal buyer for any of the 10.8 acres, and no development proposals have been formally submitted to the township.