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TIF enabling projects to take shape along west 23rd Street corridor

January 25, 2019 GMT

With Thursday’s grand opening of the Bomgaars Supply Inc., the first wave of a three-project plan for the 12.2-acre former Walmart site on the west side of town is complete.

Throughout this year, work is expected to ramp up in regard to the completion of a four-story corridor Hampton Inn hotel on approximately 2 acres of vacated parking lot space and a four-story interior apartment complex on another 2-acre plot, as previously reported by The Telegram.

During a December 2018 Columbus City Council meeting, the governing body – convening as a Community Development Agency – approved the use of tax increment financing bonds for all three projects. The Bomgaars and apartment complex projects were approved unanimously, however, the proposed hotel project passed with a 4-2 vote - Ward 3 Council Members Rich Jablonski and Ron Schilling both issued no votes. Jablonski cited there being plenty of vacancy at existing overnight lodging facilities, noting he felt it wouldn’t be a good use of taxpayer dollars to approve TIF in that instance.

In total, the complete project taking place at the old Walmart site, jump-started by Lincoln-based WHO Development, is expected to run in the $25 million range. The Bomgaars project costs approximately $2.35 million, the hotel $8.59 million and the apartment project $7.95 million. The projects are eligible for more than $3 million in TIF dollars, as previously reported by The Telegram.

In addition, frontage space along 23rd Street is expected to be available and could include a bank, restaurant or other retail business down the road.

During previous interviews with The Telegram, Mayor Jim Bulkley has reiterated time and time again how vital the implementation of TIF funds have been in regard to making headway into making the west end of town a thriving corridor once again.

For years, he said, there was talk about how the west side of Columbus was going to become the retail and business mecca of Columbus, however, the major recession occurring all throughout the U.S. about a decade ago halted development in its tracks locally.

But, the TIF tool is enabling these areas deemed blighted and substandard to resurrect themselves.

“I think that TIF was a major impetus that got us excited and made this possible for these developers,” the mayor previously said. “We have had these buildings sitting empty for a very, very long time, and suddenly we’re able to make some of that stuff work.”

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