Hilliard City Council authorizes sale of 104 acres to Amazon

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group
Hilliard City Council has authorized the sale of more than 100 acres of the Grener tract, which is between between Cosgray and Leppert roads, to Amazon Web Services.

Hilliard City Council on Nov. 9 authorized both the sale of more than 100 acres to Amazon Web Services for construction of a data center and the purchase of more than 100 acres at a different location for recreational purposes.

“It’s awesome," council member Les Carrier said. "It checks all the boxes for so many things."

Three ordinances related to the pair of real-estate transactions were approved by 7-0 votes, with no discussion among council members and no public comment.

Previous story:Hilliard poised to sell data-center-zoned land to Amazon

Council President Andy Teater said the deal with Amazon “turns the city’s commercial tax base in the right direction.”

One ordinance authorized City Manager Michelle Crandall to sell 104 acres known as the Grener tract to Amazon.

The city already owns 84 of the 104 acres, and it has a purchase agreement made in October with Hilliard City Schools to buy the other 20 acres.

The entire Grener tract is 124 acres and is named for the family that once owned the land between Cosgray and Leppert roads and south of Hayden Run Road. The school district previously owned the entire tract, acquiring it in 2003 for $50,000 per acre from the Grener family as a potential site for Bradley High School, but it sold most of it – about 104 acres – to the city in 2014 for about $4 million.

City Council on Oct. 26 approved a resolution authorizing Crandall to enter into a real-estate option with the school district for the 20 acres.

As part of the sale to Amazon Web Services approved Nov. 9, the city will pay the school district $2.8 million for the 20 acres, said David Meadows, Hilliard's economic-development director.

The sale price for all 104 acres is $14.76 million, according to Meadows.

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.

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

The other 20 acres purchased by the city in 2014, including the land for Bo Jackson's Elite Sports, 4696 Cosgray Road, were not included in the rezoning.

At the time of the rezoning, no buyer for the land was mentioned.

The proposal by Amazon to build a data center on the Grener site stemmed from “ongoing conversations” the city has with the company as a current corporate client, Meadows said last month.

Amazon already has three data-center facilities at the southeast corner of Britton Parkway and Hayden Run Road.

A fourth is under construction, and Amazon has approval for the construction of a fifth facility, Meadows said.

Amazon’s investment in the proposed data center on the Grener tract is expected to be $200 million, according to Meadows.

It would create 100 new jobs with an annual payroll of $8 million, he said.

The agreement between Amazon and the city calls for the completion of “due diligence," approval of a final site plan and closing within 270 days of the approval of the sale, but it does not require construction to begin on any given date, Meadows said.

When asked about the project last month, Lauren Lynch, a spokeswoman for Amazon Web Services, said, “AWS has a practice against commenting on our future road map.”

Coinciding with the sale to Amazon is the purchase of 125 acres east of Alton Darby Creek Road and south of Scioto Darby Road – adjacent to Roger A. Reynolds Municipal Park and the Hilliard Ohio Soccer Association complex – for $4.41 million.

The second ordinance approved Nov. 9 appropriated funds to allow the Hilliard Development Corp. to purchase what is known as the Jerman property, named for the family that owns it.

The third ordinance approved Nov. 9 authorizes the issuance of notes not to exceed $1.5 million for acquiring the Jerman property.

The city cannot use proceeds from the sale of the Grener tract to purchase the Jerman property because of the simultaneous transactions, but after that sale is final, the city would use the proceeds to pay down any debt on the purchase of the Jerman tract or purchase parkland or associated infrastructure according to the terms of the resolution, according to David Ball, Hilliard's director of communications.

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

The city is using a combination of funds, including bonds, to purchase the Jerman property for $4.41 million, Meadows said.

The community will be involved in determining how the Jerman property will be developed, Teater said.

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