The Alliance in contract to buy Kmart property, plans massive project, move headquarters to Reynoldsburg

Kelley Rodriguez
ThisWeek
This rendering shows the proposed development at Brice Road and Main Street in Reynoldsburg. The Christian and Missionary Alliance is in contract to buy 11 acres, including the former Kmart store (building F), which will be the site of a 2-story, 310-space parking garage. The proposal includes office space, housing, a hotel and convention space. The religious organization also is in negotiations to buy the remaining 9 acres to the left of the Kmart site.

The vacant Kmart store at the corner of Brice Road and Main Street in Reynoldsburg will be demolished this summer in anticipation of a massive redevelopment project city officials call “game-changing.”  

The Christian and Missionary Alliance, or the Alliance, a nonprofit evangelical protestant religious organization with more than a half-million U.S. members, plans to move its corporate headquarters this summer from Colorado Springs, Colorado.  

The move will bring nearly 200 employees and an expected $10 million in annual payroll, Mayor Joe Begeny said.  

This rendering shows another view of the proposed development by the Christian and Missionary Alliance at Brice Road and Main Street.

The Alliance is in contract to buy nearly 11 acres at the northeast corner of Brice Road and Main Street, including the former Kmart store, with proposed multimillion-dollar redevelopment plans that include office space, housing, a 2-story, 100-room boutique hotel and 15,000-square-feet of convention and conference space, city officials told ThisWeek Reynoldsburg News on Feb. 9, ahead of the official announcement scheduled for Feb. 10. 

Begeny discussed development plans with Dr. John Stumbo, president and CEO of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, during a livestream Feb. 10 on the city’s Facebook page.

During the announcement, Stumbo said the organization had “dreamt about” moving from its 58,000-square-foot office building in Colorado to “get out in the community.”

The organization’s board of directors was seeking more diverse communities with a lower cost of living and near a major airport, Stumbo said.  

The Alliance annually holds dozens of conventions and conferences but “we are are set aside by ourselves in a business park,” he said.

“Why do we leave our campus to go do that? Why don’t we become the host of our own events and open that building up to others who need to have events?” Stumbo said. “These are the kinds of dreams that were in our head – for the office to be commingled in the community.”

The project marks “a new beginning for Reynoldsburg – for that specific property – but also a new beginning for our organization,” Stumbo said.

Begeny earlier called the Alliance proposal “the first domino that needed to fall” to break the stigma of the Brice Road corridor.  

“There isn’t a bigger development that you’re going to see in the city,” he said. “It will change the landscape of the west side of Reynoldsburg. You have a snowball effect because good development creates good development. This now allows us to really target the entire Brice Road area. We hope to extend its reach along Brice Road all the way to I-70. It shows the commitment of the city to revitalizing the entire area.” 

The project is nicknamed the Alliance Gateway, but “they don’t want it to be a pass-through. They want it to be the destination,” development director Andrew Bowsher said.  

Architectural renderings show three buildings at Brice and Main, with up to 185,000 square feet of office, retail and restaurant space.  

The Alliance plans to use at least 45,000 square feet of office space for its headquarters. Most office buildings will contain first-floor retail and café space, officials said. 

A 2-story, 310-space public parking garage is planned near the current site of the Kmart building. 

The Alliance is in negotiations to buy the remaining 9 acres to the left of the Kmart site where a strip mall now operates, Bowsher said. 

That parcel is proposed to be a mix of 60 townhomes, 128 apartments and an additional 30,000 square feet of office and retail space, if all 20 acres are developed as proposed. 

The entire property is part of a city tax-increment-finance (TIF) district, although there are no estimates yet on potential revenues.  

A TIF locks in the taxable worth of real property at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation is approved, diverting the incremental revenue from traditional property-tax collecting entities to designated uses, such as funding necessary improvements or infrastructure. 

While the Alliance is a nonprofit entity, the proposed retail and commercial areas of the development – including the hotel and ground-floor restaurant and retail space – would be tax-producing.  

Hotel rooms also would be subject to the city’s bed tax, which funds the visitors bureau.  

“This is something that is not a usual business model,” Begeny said. “It’s a win-win for the city.” 

The Alliance likely would manage some of the office and retail properties but is expected to contract with hotel and housing developers, officials said. 

The 86,000-square-foot Kmart store closed in 2017. Since then, semitrucks often stop in the parking lot, and the property is a frequent source of discussion on social media.  

Discount retailers and self-storage companies made offers for the property, but city officials wanted to do more, Begeny said.  

“Looking at something like this – you have this idea of what you know this site could be. To get a community-changing environment you have to patience to realize this is more than what most people see when they drive by,” he said. “I don’t think anybody was thinking big enough. We had a vision, and we wanted to keep pushing that.” 

The McDonald’s at 6323 E. Main St. is expected to remain open for now, officials said.  

The entire redevelopment project will take at least five to seven years to complete, Bowsher said.   

Alliance corporate employees are expected to move to central Ohio this summer. The company is buying a 16,000-square-foot office building east of its property to use as temporary headquarters, Bowsher said.  

With more than 2,000 churches in America, including the Cross Walk Church on Rosehill Road, the Alliance has missionaries serving in 70 countries, according to its website, cmalliance.org.  

On its “perspectives” page, the Alliance lists official stances on such topics as marriage and sexuality that potentially could conflict with the city’s antidiscrimination ordinance.  

Last year, City Council added sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to the city’s protected classes, expanding antidiscrimination laws related to housing, employment and public-accommodation practices. 

The legislation provides exemptions for those seeking employment at a religious corporation, association, educational institution or society and allows a religious institution to employ only those people of the same religion. It also includes definitions of commercial and noncommercial activity, to help provide clarity for religious institutions. 

Begeny said he has spoken with Alliance officials about the city’s antidiscrimination laws and he believes it will “hold true to city policies” when it comes to serving the public. 

“I’m a big believer in separation between church and state,” he said. “We are better together when we work through those issues.”  

The Alliance scouted more than 100 locations nationwide, including several other cities in Ohio, before deciding on Reynoldsburg.  

Stumbo and other Alliance organization officials made two visits to the city last year, Bowsher said.  

This is the first project to fall within the city’s 330-acre opportunity zone, created as part of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Bowsher said. 

Opportunity zones allow developers to defer taxes on any prior gains until the date on which an investment is sold or exchanged or Dec. 31, 2026 – whichever comes first – as long as the gain is reinvested in a qualified opportunity fund, Bowsher said. 

If an investor holds the investment in the opportunity fund for at least 10 years, the investor would be eligible for an increase in value equal to the fair-market value of the investment on the date it is sold or exchanged, Bowsher said. Capital-gains taxes would go back to the individual or company that is creating jobs within the opportunity zone. 

The Alliance also is expected to apply for relocation grants from JobsOhio, officials said.  

Development plans are expected to be filed in the fall, at which time they will be heard by the city’s planning commission, Bowsher said.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews