Groveport unveils plans for Main Street buildings

SCOTT GERFEN
editorial@thisweeknews.com
This rendering of Wirt's Grove is at the corner of College and Main streets. The two-story building will have more than 12,000 square feet with five storefronts on the first floor. The building is expected to open by early summer.

The city of Groveport is moving forward with a $6 million redevelopment plan to construct two buildings in the Main Street corridor downtown, an area where residents have long wanted to see new restaurants or retail.

City administrator B.J. King received unanimous approval from City Council on Aug. 24 to enter into an agreement with Dayton-based Miller-Valentine Group for phase 2 of the project, which will include preliminary design work totaling nearly $154,000.

Conceptual designs were created earlier this year for two new mixed-use buildings: one at the corner of Front and Main streets next to the Ace Hardware store and the other at the corner of College and Main streets, the former site of Stebe's Auto Sales.

"Groveport can sit around and wait for development or we can take the bull by the horns and get it done ourselves," Mayor Lance Westcamp said. "Personally, I think taking a more entrepreneurial approach is best in the long run for the city."

The project, which the city expects to fund through the sale of bonds, is known as 1847 Main, referring to the year Groveport was incorporated from two rival villages, Rarey's Port and Wirt's Grove, located on the Ohio and Erie Canal.

According to the building designs, one 2-story building at College and Main streets, called Wirt's Grove, is more than 12,000 square feet, with five storefronts on the first floor and nearly 70 parking spaces.

The second building at Front and Main streets, Rarey's Port, is more than 14,000 square feet, with six storefronts. Parking would be available in the city's nearby municipal building.

Patio space is planned for both buildings, which could open next spring or early summer, said Jeff Green, development director and assistant city administrator.

"For years it has been a challenge to effectively recruit new businesses to the downtown because we lacked the available commercial space," he said. "In addition, many would-be businesses emerging from the city's small-business training programs had difficulty finding space to establish their business start-up."

But that hasn't been the case recently.

The city is in lease discussions with three restaurants: two that are interested in the Wirt's Grove building and one for the Rarey's Port development, Green said.

"It's interesting that most of the discussions we've had have come during the pandemic, during the quarantine," he said.

"One of them closed a business in (Columbus') Short North just at the beginning of the pandemic to figure out where he wanted to go next."

King isn't surprised by the interest in Groveport.

"With the city acting as its own developer of these two properties and owning the buildings, it eliminates the motivation for profit and allows us to be more flexible in our lease negotiations," he said. "With reducing the risk level for (tenants), it makes it attractive."

Groveport purchased the former used car lot at 490 Main St. for $250,000 in 2018 and set up signs promoting the site for potential development.

Earlier this year, the city purchased property at 480 Main St. for $150,000 and demolished a 2-story home that stood there.

Green said the city hopes to have leases negotiated and signed prior to beginning phase 3 of the project, which will include developing construction documents and getting zoning approvals and permits and more.

"I think the residents are going to fall in love with our new downtown," Councilman Ed Dildine Jr. said. "I truly believe this is a project the whole community can get behind and show the support we all know Groveport can do."

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews

This rendering of Rarey's Port is at the corner of Front and Main streets. The two-story building will have more than 14,000 square feet with six storefronts on the first floor. The building is expected to open by early summer.