City officials say development will be the key focus in 2019 as Reynoldsburg builds on a continuing wave of commercial activity and growth.
"The development boom that the city is currently undergoing is unprecedented," Mayor Brad McCloud said. "There were 60 new businesses that opened in Reynoldsburg in 2018."
Development Director Andrew Bowsher said those new businesses were just the beginning of the city's development growth.
"We're working on creating attractive spaces in abandoned or dilapidated shopping centers -- particularly in the Kmart center," he said. "This happens to be in an opportunity zone and is a key area within our development plan."
He said the city is "facilitating a prospective developer for the space" but would not be more specific.
The goal for the space, Bowsher said, is "to create a live-work-play area."
"This would be similar in nature to Grandview Yard and others," Bowsher said. "We see this project as a regeneration for the entire intersection (of Brice Road and East Main Street). The city is in communication with all the property owners in the area, and we look forward to the opportunity to increase the availability of specialty shops, high-end office space and uptown living within the city."
Two other ongoing projects are expected to reach fruition in 2019 -- the YMCA Community Center and a new Kroger Center, McCloud said.
"Upon completion, the YMCA will comprise approximately 70,000 square feet that will include space for corporate partner OhioHealth," he said. "The estimated ribbon-cutting is mid-December 2019.
"The Kroger Co. has started construction on its new building just west of Rosehill Road, which will be approximately 100,000 square feet. Estimated date of completion is mid-November 2019," McCloud said. "There is also discussion regarding potential new and/or redevelopment at the existing Kroger Center at Briarcliff and Main streets."
In Olde Reynoldsburg, the owner of Prost Cafe on Main Street has purchased the building to the west of his space and plans to construct a new restaurant with a southwest theme, to be called the Tempe Taco Company.
"Estimated completion (of Tempe Taco) is spring of 2019," McCloud said. "The city also will be moving forward with construction of the parking lot and amenities at the northwest corner of Main Street and Lancaster Avenue."
He said Columbus Metropolitan Library officials plan to build a new library in Reynoldsburg and are viewing potential sites in the city.
"In addition, Buckeye Lake Brewery has purchased the former banquet facility on Davidson Drive and will be opening their second location," McCloud said. "This will be a brewing facility and a restaurant, after an extensive renovation and addition."
Zoning code changes
Bowsher said Reynoldsburg's zoning codes might have to be tweaked to make way for development in some areas. The current code was written in 1969.
"The city will be partnering with Calfee Zoning to create and rewrite a brand new zoning code," he said. "This code will give our newly developed comprehensive plan its legal standing.
"Our future land-use map will gain further adjustments and ultimately (will) be the backbone and the everyday tool our administration will utilize in bringing the comprehensive plan to fruition," he said.
A complete overhaul of the code is required to account for "the large changes on how we live and interact within our built environment," Bowsher said.
"It is our goal to complete the zoning code by November of 2019," he said.
"Residential property owners will largely be unaffected. This will mainly be change to the commercial and industrial sectors within the city."
Councilman Marshall Spalding said Bowsher has been "a breath of spring air" for the city because he found ways to improve older businesses and helped development professionals, civic leaders and "real citizens" put together a plan that is "truly comprehensive."
"I hope that the development that the city will experience will enhance our lives and make the city more attractive for young families as well as seniors who want to make the city their home because it is a safe, comfortable and a friendly place to call home," Spalding said.
"I also wish that people can engage and be a positive part of those many changes."
Bowsher said his department wants to "reimagine and reinvigorate what is Reynoldsburg" through a future creative branding strategy.
"The development department plays a vital role in the built aspect of the city, but we also feel it's our responsibility to project an image of diversity, history, economic vitality and small-town charm," he said.
"Through this branding strategy, we hope to outline a process by which our team will create a compelling, relevant brand identity and key messaging that differentiate Reynoldsburg from other communities."
Communication is the key to that rebranding, Bowsher said.
"We intend to effectively communicate our vision, values and aspirations for the future and provide a consistent, cohesive representation of the city across all communication platforms," he said.
Spalding said he hopes the community will embrace a year of change.
"My hope is that the changes will enhance our city, rather than cause division," he said.
McCloud said he is excited for the city.
"This is an exciting time for Reynoldsburg and we thank City Council and our citizens for their continuing efforts to move the city forward," he said.