With its proximity to downtown Columbus and The Ohio State University, it’s arguable that Grandview Heights has long been an attractive bedroom community. But that wasn’t good enough for city officials.
They wanted businesses to take up residence there as well, and in recent years they set out to attract them. So far, it appears their efforts are working.
Economic development in Grandview became a top priority almost a decade ago, when it was announced that Penn Traffic was bankrupt, which meant the entire Big Bear operation in the city would be closed. Big Bear occupied about one million square feet of warehouse space.
With the loss of Big Bear and several other major employers, Grandview lost about 7 percent of its revenue. Also, in 2004 FEMA revised its floodplain maps and took all but 10 acres of the city’s commercial property out of the floodway.
“Fortunately the city had an approved community plan that identified some actions that could potentially reposition the city’s commercial areas for economic development,” says Patrik Bowman, director of administration and development for the city of Grandview.
To buoy the community plan, city officials held numerous public hearings with residents and business owners to formulate an economic development strategy.
It recommended public investment on Grandview Avenue to bolster the activity that was already there. It also indicated that, as a matter of policy, Grandview would be just as aggressive and innovative as other Central Ohio communities that had longer histories of economic development.
Establishing a “creative corridor” along Goodale Boulevard was another goal. Today, companies that call the corridor home include Conrad Philips & Vutech, Brainstorm Media, and Bravo Brio Restaurant Group.
The Grandview Avenue Enhancement Strategy has also been ongoing, though progress is spotty.
The building at 855 Grandview Ave. has been a great success and is now 100 percent occupied, Bowman says. Additionally, an office and residential condominium building at 1200 Grandview Ave. was constructed.
Another large, mixed-use building was approved at Grandview and Haines Avenues, but was never constructed due to the dip in the condo market.
“The existing residential structures at that location were converted to condos, so it is unlikely that any more of the block to First Avenue will redevelop,” he says.
However, improvements to the Grandview Avenue intersections at Dublin Road, and First and Second Avenues will get underway thanks to a grant awarded to the city. At minimum those projects will bury overhead lines, install decorative traffic signals, and construct ADA compliant ramps, he says.
It’s arguable that Grandview Yard, at the intersection of Olentangy River Road and Goodale Boulevard, is the city’s crown jewel. However, its development is only in the first phase.
The phases will be determined by the opportunity for private development, he says, adding that mixed-use projects are very tricky because opportunities don’t all come at once.
“To date our emphasis has been on attracting companies that were willing to readapt our existing industrial buildings for use as higher density office buildings,” he says. “The city provided many incentives to make this happen.”
At this time, the city does not offer resources that a small business may need to invest in itself.
“We do not have incubators or have the funds to invest in a partnership with [nearby] TechColumbus,” he says. “We do know where the resources are located and will assist any firm in finding them. We are willing to talk with any business, and can incent employee growth.”
Additionally, city officials do their best to make personal connections with area companies.
“Our businesses know our mayor, police chief, and fire chief,” he says.
More information about economic development in the city of Grandview Heights can be found at GrandviewHeights.org.