Reynoldsburg City Council: Purchase of PNC, Happy Dragon properties approved
Reynoldsburg City Council on April 12 voted 5-1 to spend more than $2.6 million to buy two commercially zoned properties on East Main Street to spur redevelopment.
The city has agreed to pay $2 million for the 1.6-acre former PNC Bank property at 7221 E. Main Street and $620,000 for the half-acre Happy Dragon restaurant property at 7332 E. Main Street.
Mayor Joe Begeny told council the purchases were an effort by the city to “control its own destiny” and better determine what types of businesses are coming into downtown Reynoldsburg.
Class A office space – of which the city has none – medical users, and small-business “incubator space” are among the types of projects being discussed, Begeny said.
The city will “be able to set up the stage for some good small and medium sized businesses” he said. “We can listen to the best offer.”
Officials said the city intends to hold onto the properties for about a year to and would then sell the land to new owners as part of redevelopment.
At-large councilman Barth Cotner cast the lone vote against the purchases, saying at least three developers have been interested in the properties before and nothing has materialized.
“The fact that were trying to purchase this and hold it for someone as a landowner, it just still seems problematic,” Cotner said. “I’m greatly worried about us selling this at a loss with the promise that jobs will come.”
Reynoldsburg is working with Trivium Development LLC, a Columbus-based company as its “preferred developer.”
The city was contacted by Tim Spencer, president of Trivium Development, last year about potential redevelopment sites for commercial/mixed-use developments that could bring “tenants not yet seen in Reynoldsburg,” said Andrew Bowsher, development director.
Established in 2008, the company’s recent projects include the Westar redevelopment on Cleveland Avenue and Polaris Parkway in Westerville and the Worthington Gateway, a mixed-use retail development slated for U.S. route 23 and Interstate 270.
“When it came to these two properties, based on the relationship which was already established, we felt we would be taking less risk, with a quicker return on investment working with a developer located in the area, sharing the city’s vision, meeting the timeline of the city auditor,” Bowsher said. “We feel extremely confident in Trivium’s ability to bring these two important projects to fruition.”
Bowsher said the city negotiated the first right of refusal with the PNC property owner about three years ago, during the redevelopment of a former swimming pool and roller rink at 1520 Davidson Drive into the community center YMCA.
The city owns the land and building and has 15-year leases with the YMCA of Central Ohio and OhioHealth.
“We do own the majority of the land surrounding this site, and we want something that’s going to match our $30 million investment right next to it,” Bowsher said.
At-large councilman Stacie Baker and Ward 2 councilman Louis Salvati each spoke in favor of the purchases, with Baker calling it “an investment in ourselves.”
Any redevelopment plans will require approval by the city’s planning commission and likely will come along with conditions such as dedicated public parking.
The restaurant property is expected to be redeveloped first, with construction beginning as soon as spring 2022, Bowsher said.
The PNC building is vacant. The Happy Dragon restaurant is expected to close before the city takes ownership.
The sales are expected to close within 60 days.
Both buildings are expected to be demolished at developer’s cost, Begeny said.
The city will use money from its Capital Improvements Fund to purchase the properties, according to the April 12 legislation.