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Council approves local redevelopment agreement

October 4, 2018

The Columbus City Council during its Monday evening meeting approved a redevelopment agreement with Columbus-based West Elks LLC, enabling the company to build in the West 23rd Street corridor redevelopment area.

The redevelopment plan, presented to the council by West Elks and Granville Custom Homes owner Steve Ramaekers, calls for construction of an approximately 3,000-square-foot office building and a 12,600-square-foot commercial building within the redevelopment area, 4514 23rd St.

With the area being classified as blighted and substandard, Ramaekers and his team are eligible to receive up to $155,650 in tax-increment financing (TIF) to aid the completion of the estimated $1,091,650 project by Dec. 31, 2019, according to staff report information.

The office space will serve as the office and shop location for Granville Custom Homes, released design layouts show. The property has been unmanned for several years and Ramaekers said purchasing and developing the land helps secure a more stable future for his company moving forward.

The property, he said, was purchased in 2016 with the intent of erecting an office space.

“It was really the cheapest thing we could find that could accommodate what we wanted to do,” he said of the land acquisition. “Since then, we have sat on it, and the reason being is because we were very leery of the uses that might take place in that area. That part of town has just been dead for so long that I can tell you, I drove by that property for 10 years and never really realized it was even there.”

With TIF funding becoming available in an effort to revitalize the West 23rd Street corridor, it proved a viable time to pursue the project, he said.

“I think that this really tipped the scale with us moving forward,” Ramaekers said of the TIF availability. “ … I think the TIF piece is really helpful, and it forces us into a timeline and it forces us to define the project. And, under the redevelopment agreement, we have to move forward.”

In addition to the Granville Custom Homes office space, Ramaekers said the intent is to offer shop space for area business owners to benefit from. He said that there’s an overall lack of spaces that might be available in other markets that somebody like a plumber or electrician moving out of his or her office could move into taking the next step forward with his or her business venture.

Ramaekers said the plan calls for a six-bay commercial building – the larger component of the total project – with the conjoined bays’ dimensions being approximately 30 feet wide and 70 feet deep.

“They would have the opportunity for a user to come in and put in an office space and a shop space,” he said. “So it’s not really retail and it’s not really industrial. It’s more like Joe the plumber type use where a guy with a couple employees needs to write up estimates and maybe needs to meet me as a contractor, or something of that nature, to go over a project.

“… A chronic problem in Columbus - and I believe this is the reason you don’t see market-rate apartments and things of that nature - is that the rents just don’t justify the costs of things,” he said. “Some people around here are going to want to rent that bay for maybe a thousand dollars, and in Lincoln or Omaha, it might cost them $1,600 bucks.”

Without the assistance of the TIF funding, Ramaekers said this particular project wouldn’t have come to life. He said he likely would still be sitting on the property assessing his options.

“So you’re saying that you would have never moved forward on this project without TIF; that you have presented to us right now?” Ward 3 Council member Rich Jablonski asked.

“Absolutely would not have moved forward with it,” Ramaekers said.

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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