City officials in Groveport hope to entice developers by purchasing more property at the northwest corner of Main and College streets.
At its April 27 meeting, City Council unanimously authorized city administrator Benjamin J. King to purchase the 0.19-acre site at 480 Main St., which includes a house of more than 2,000 square feet that was built in the early 1900s.
The purchase price is $150,000, King said.
"What that does is it gives us more flexibility, and we'll be able to maximize the area better," King said. "It also gives us additional property to provide adequate parking spaces with whatever goes there."
The house is adjacent to a former used-car lot, Stebe's Sales Inc., a nearly half-acre property the city bought in 2018 for $250,000.
The city also has owned green space next to the Ace Hardware store at 726 Main St. since 2013. Baltimore Land Management LLC, which built the store, had been leasing the adjacent space from the city, with plans to construct a second building on the site. However, the lease expired on that property at the end of 2019.
City officials have said the goal remains to find a restaurant or retail business for the Main Street site, which is what residents indicated they want to see in the downtown, according to a survey and market study conducted in 2018.
The city, along with the Groveport Community Improvement Corp., a nonprofit whose mission is to enhance the city's economic and community development efforts, are looking at more ways to provide available downtown commercial space and ensure it is affordability for start-up businesses.
The area also would be ideal for mixed uses, including office space, King said. However, he said, the stay-at-home orders in place because of the coronavirus pandemic have been destructive to both the retail and restaurant sectors.
"We are well aware the impact this has had," King said. "We understand that people are in challenging times and the restaurant business is in a difficult spot right now. But let's use this time to get all our ducks in a row."
Groveport's 2020 budget included funding for an environmental and architectural study of the area around the Main Street properties.
The city plans to demolish the building at 480 Main St. King has asked the public works department to determine how much of the work it could do.
"What they can't do, we'll get a cost estimate on what it would take to finish the job," he said.
Mayor Lance Westcamp also has said it might be time for the city to consider developing the property.
"We're looking at all options," King said.