Construction of the first phase in the Grandview Heights portion of the Grandview Crossing project is expected to begin later this year.

Grandview Heights City Council approved legislation March 4 authorizing a Community Reinvestment Agreement with Wagenbrenner Development.

The CRA was modified to include Wagenbrenner as a party to the agreement with the city, along with 810 Grandview LLC, the company that owns the property at the northeast corner of Grandview Avenue and Dublin Road.

Wagenbrenner is the majority owner of 810 Grandview LLC, with other partners involved, said Greg Daniels, an attorney representing Wagenbrenner.

The developer still would need to get approval of a final development plan from the planning commission before the Grandview portion of the project can get started in earnest, said Patrik Bowman, the city's director of administration and economic development.

Wagenbrenner plans to build a 53-acre mixed-use development along Dublin Road, with about 15.9 acres in Grandview and the remaining parcels in Columbus.

The Grandview portion of the development is expected to include up to 50,000 square feet of office space, up to 250 apartment units for senior citizens, a hotel with up to 200 rooms and up to 50,000 square feet of retail space.

The agreement would provide the developer with a Community Reinvestment Agreement exemption for each building constructed on the parcels within Grandview to enable site improvements to take place.

Wagenbrenner would receive a 15-year, 50 percent tax abatement for the hotel property, with a potential increase to 75 percent on approval of Grandview Heights Schools, and 15-year, 50 percent exemptions for the multifamily residential and nonretail commercial buildings.

The agreement also provides a 30-year, 100 percent tax-increment-financing exemption with make-whole payments to the schools equal to the amount of property taxes the school district would have received if the improvements had not been exempted by the TIF.

A TIF locks in the taxable worth of real property at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation is approved, diverting resulting incremental revenue to designated uses, such as funding necessary improvements or infrastructure to support a new development, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.

The estimated total cost of the project is listed in the agreement as $60 million for construction of buildings and site improvements of about $41 million, including $33 million in public infrastructure and property improvements.

Council also unanimously approved legislation to create a tax-increment-financing agreement and authorize the mayor to enter into the TIF agreement and a cooperative agreement with the developer.

Before the vote, Councilman Steve Reynolds asked for more information about the identity of the other partners in 810 Grandview LLC.

"The city should have the right to know who it is dealing with" and reassurance that it need not be concerned that it could authorize an agreement to provide incentives to entities it may later regret, he said.

"They are all upstanding citizens and to the best of my knowledge, they have no outstanding issues," Wagenbrenner Development vice president Eric Wagenbrenner said.

At this time, the developer would like to keep its identity anonymous, he said.

Another issue of concern is that the project would add up to 250 senior units to the community without "any real promise of offsetting jobs," Reynolds said. A recent Columbus Dispatch story indicated the city of Columbus is beginning to see a negative financial impact because "its residential base is beginning to exceed its jobs-created base," he said.

"I don't want us to get into that situation as well," Reynolds said.

"Right now, we don't know if (the senior project) will be a licensed facility," Wagenbrenner said.

The developer has been in talks with a company that operates licensed facilities and previously partnered with Wagenbrenner Development to see if it has any interest in the Grandview Crossing project, he said.

Another group has been contacted that specializes in 55-and-over residential projects offering high-end amenities but not the same scope of services as a licensed facility, Wagenbrenner said.

"We're confident we'll get to that (level of) jobs -- if not exceed it," he said.

If the 55-and-older housing project is a licensed facility, it will provide a number of jobs with a high payroll, Wagenbrenner said.

Even a high-end senior facility that is not licensed would have more positions than is typical with a multifamily project, he said.

The Grandview portion of the project also will include the hotel and retail uses, each offering a number of jobs, he said.

The agreement states that Grandview Crossing is expected to bring jobs that would result in about $100,000 in annual income-tax revenue for the city, he said.

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