Hilliard would use most proceeds from sale of data-center land for 'parkland acquisition'

KEVIN CORVO
kcorvo@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

If and when Hilliard finds a buyer for its 84 acres on Cosgray Road recently rezoned for a potential data center, 75% of the net-sale proceeds would be used to replace the land that no longer would be used for recreational purposes.

Hilliard City Council on Aug. 24 adopted a resolution that requires 75% of proceeds from any sale "be dedicated to parkland acquisition, development and associated infrastructure."

Hilliard leaders have not identified any alternate site where it might purchase land, David Ball, the city's director of communications, said Aug. 26.

The land, known locally as part of the Grener tract because of the family who once lived there, is in three parcels on the east side of Cosgray, west of Leppert Road, south of Hayden Run Road and north of Scioto Darby Road.

The 124-acre Grener tract includes 104 acres owned by the city and 20 acres owned by Hilliard City Schools.

On July 13, Hilliard City Council rezoned 84 of the acres owned by the city and the 20 owned by the school district from a support-facilities district to a planned-unit-development district that would allow a data center.

If all 104 acres were sold, the city and school district would share the proceeds, but the city would set aside 75% of the share from its 84 acres, according to Ball.

The city does not have a market value for the land, Ball said.

The city had planned to build the Grener Sports Complex on the site, but earlier this year, after a study indicated it would cost about $38 million to build out the complex, officials opted against it.

City Manager Michelle Crandall said in July that Hilliard does not have the financing available to advance development of the land for recreational purposes in the near future.

However, Crandall said, a data center would be a "good secondary use" for the 104 acres.

"The next best use is a data center, (and) we want to be ready if (an opportunity) comes before us," Crandall said in July.

David Meadows, Hilliard's economic-development director, agreed with Crandall's assessment.

"We don't have the capital to make that happen," he said.

In addition, if the land is sold and used for a data center, it no longer would be tax-exempt, Meadows said in July.

Also, for a data center, the city would not need to invest in the infrastructure to improve roads in the area that otherwise would be required to accommodate a sports complex, he said.

Meanwhile, Amazon's data centers on Britton Parkway just south of Hayden Run Road have demonstrated the benefit of data centers in bringing additional employees and higher-than-average salaries to a community, Meadows said.

The city's 104 acres of the Grener tract were purchased from the school district in 2014 for $4 million. In 2003, the district had purchased the 124 acres for $50,000 per acre from the Grener family as a potential site for Hilliard Bradley High School.

The other approximately 20 acres the city purchased in 2014, including about 7 acres for Bo Jackson's Elite Sports, 4696 Cosgray Road, were not part of the land rezoned for a data center, Ball said.

In November 2014, the city's Grener land had been rezoned to a support-facilities district, and it had a deed restriction that prohibited the use of the property for anything other than parks and recreational purposes, according to a city staff report.

The deed restriction had to be lifted in conjunction with the PUD concept plan to allow data-center uses, according to city planner John Talentino.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

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