Upper Arlington officials expect to identify upgrades for Northam Park, the possible need for a community center and community-relations efforts in 2020.
City Manager Steve Schoeny, who has been on the job just since Sept. 30, and other city officials see 2020 as a year to further several projects and programs that already have been outlined or launched.
A primary emphasis will be on the work of the 16-member Community Center Feasibility Task Force, which was appointed by Upper Arlington City Council and now has three consultant firms signed on to assist in deciding if an indoor recreation center is needed and wanted.
The task force and consultants are expected to work through much of 2020 as they collect public input and help form recommendations for how the city might pursue a rec center project.
"I think the one I'm most excited for is going through the process with our Community Center Feasibility Task Force," Schoeny said. "The task force is going to be looking at, 'What does our community need? What are the gaps in terms of the services that we can provide our community? Is one of the solutions for those services constructing a community center? What's the financial model for that community center. What kind of process do we need to go through to design and build it? Where should it go?'
"Those are all the questions that we need to be asking over the next year."
Council President Kip Greenhill said council and city staff members are taking a hands-off approach so the task force can work independently.
"We want this to be an independent research project," he said. "This is going to be heavily driven by the community. If (the task force) needs to go into late spring, so be it."
At the same time, an $81,500 study of Northam Park will take place in 2020.
"The intent is to study and develop a long-term plan for the improvement and renovation of existing athletic and civic facilities already contained within the park," said Jeff Anderson, Upper Arlington parks planning and development manager. "This project will be for the schematic design of infrastructure improvements to the athletic fields and tennis court complex."
Anderson said the study would examine potential improvements to open field space south of Northam's tennis complex for use as "athletic and community event space."
"Potential improvements may include regrading, stormwater improvements, installation of underdrains, irrigation, etc.," he said.
In terms of development, the city expects to see significant progress in 2020 related to the Arlington Gateway.
The 11-story mixed-use project at the corner of West Lane Avenue and North Star Road is being led by Continental Real Estate Cos.
Roy Boy LLC and Arcadia Development of Ohio are partners.
Construction is expected to begin the first quarter of 2020, with a 2022 target completion.
It will feature 130,000 square feet of office space, 218 luxury apartments, 14,350 square feet of retail space and an 843-vehicle parking garage.
Scott Patton, managing partner of Arcadia Development of Ohio LLC, has indicated a lease agreement was in place with Spavia, a "high-end" treatment spa, to occupy a portion of the retail space and that Half-Price Books, currently at 1375 W. Lane Ave., would stay as a tenant.
The project is expected to cost upwards of $100 million to build. Developers have said it will yield Upper Arlington's tallest building and initially will generate $1.2 million to $1.3 million in annual income taxes.
Schoeny said the city continues to work with Tree of Life Christian Schools after the organization in May lost its legal bid to open a school at the city's largest office complex at 5000 Arlington Centre Blvd. and is now seeking to sell the property.
He did not, however, have any new information about the Kroger Co.'s plans for redeveloping the former Macy's building at Kingsdale Center. Company officials told ThisWeek Upper Arlington News via Twitter in December they don't have any updates to share about a potential project at the site.
"Working to encourage Kroger to figure out their plans are for that property is a high emphasis," Schoeny said. "They haven't shared any plans they have for the building.
"Obviously, it's a huge point of frustration for everybody in the community that the building has set there for five years, vacant. So we're going to be looking at what we can do to help them."
Schoeny said the Kroger property at Kingsdale also "highlights for us that we want to go back and look at what it is that we should be doing if we have a long-term vacant property."
As for other 2020 initiatives, Schoeny said, there would be more community outreach, especially to new residents and people considering a move to Upper Arlington.
"There's more that we can do to welcome folks who are new to our community and to also let more diverse people know that Upper Arlington is a community that wants to grow its diversity," he said. "We want to grow our diversity racially, ethnically. We want a diverse socioeconomical set of folks in our community, and we're welcoming to everybody with all different kinds of gender identities and sexual preferences. We have that entire openness.
"I don't think a community can compete in the future if it tries to be exclusive," he said. "Inclusive communities are the ones that succeed. Exclusive communities are the ones that atrophy and become a shadow of what they were."
Emma Speight, the city's community-affairs director, said one of the communications concepts that officials and staff have discussed include the creation of a formal Welcome Wagon.
"We'd probably be working with different Realtors and groups in the community, and churches as well, identifying when people are new to the community and how we welcome them into the fold," Speight said. "We want to help get them tapped into the resources and networking they might need to feel at home here.
"It's just opening the doors a little bit more, being more welcoming."