Reynoldsburg will use a low-interest county loan to help pay for improvements to East Main Street.

This is the first time Reynoldsburg has used the financing option, which city Development Director Andrew Bowsher called an "invaluable tool."

Franklin County Commissioners approved a $750,000 loan April 9 for two city projects expected to help boost business and development. Overall, project estimates are $2 million; the city will cover the remaining cost.

The seven-year loan was issued by the Franklin County Infrastructure Bank, which is a revolving-loan fund that provides below-market-rate loans to municipalities for economic development projects within the county.

It carries an interest rate of 1.9%.

According to information from the Franklin County Economic Development Department, any publicly owned infrastructure that is related to an economic development project is eligible for financing. The loans are capped at 50% of a project's cost, up to $1 million.

Reynoldsburg will use about $250,000 in loan funds to pay for a four-way traffic signal adjacent to the new Kroger store under construction at 6600 E. Main St., Bowsher said.

The 100,000-square-foot store is expected to open later this year on about 16 acres that were once home to a trailer park.

Although he declined to identify the company, Bowsher said Reynoldsburg expects plans for the redevelopment of "several parcels across from Kroger" to be submitted to the city's planning commission soon.

"The traffic light will do more than just provide safety and ease of accessibility for the new Kroger," Bowsher said. "This would be one more piece in revitalizing East Main Street."

The light will be installed during the summer; the work is not expected to cause traffic delays, Bowsher said.

The rest of the loan money will be used to help pay for streetscape improvements in the Olde Reynoldsburg area, along East Main Street from Davidson Drive to Waggoner Road, Bowsher said.

The city has allocated $72,000 to pay OHM Advisors, a Columbus engineering firm, for the project's design and plans, which are expected later this year. Once construction begins, it is expected to take about a year to complete, Bowsher said.

Increasing the walkability, landscaping, lighting and parking in Olde Reynoldsburg are among the goals identified in the city's 2018 comprehensive plan.

The city applied for the loan in November and plans to repay it using tax-increment-financing funds from the new Kroger site, Bowsher said.

A TIF is an economic-development mechanism available to local governments to finance public-infrastructure improvements and, in certain circumstances, residential rehabilitation, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.

A TIF locks in the taxable worth of real property at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation is approved, diverting the incremental revenue from traditional property-tax-collecting entities to designated uses, such as funding necessary improvements or infrastructure to support a new development.

Reynoldsburg enacted a TIF on the Kroger site last year.

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