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Who deserves credit for Kingsdale?

City Council incumbent candidates Frank Ciotola's and Wade Steen's campaign flyers are proclaiming how they got Kingsdale done.

"With Linda Mauger and Don Leach both leaving Council, we need moderates to replace them --- members who will put the people's business first. We think Mike Schadek and Debbie Johnson are those two candidates."

--- UAPA Executive Cmte

But who really negotiated on behalf of Upper Arlington constituents for the best deal with developers? Who had the backbone to stand up and get the best deal for Upper Arlington?

As it turns out, Ciotola and Steen are two of the least deserving of all the praise they are heaping on themselves.

The market idealogues vs. the pragmatists

We heard it 100 times during the Kingsdale debate from Council's right-wing block --- "let the market dictate what goes in at Kingsdale". In this Columbus Dispatch story entitled 'Big-box approach OK'd for Kingsdale', Ciotola thought that UA was negotiating too aggressively on Regency's big box Target store proposal:

"I think municipalities are getting overzealous in dictating what the mix of development is instead of letting the market dictate," he said.

If UA had solely relied on market forces, as Ciotola suggests, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Regency would have "dictated" our future and we'd likely have a big box Target store or something like it at Kingsdale today.

A view of the Continental's proposed Kingsdale site from Tremont Road. Many of us breathed a sign of relief when Regency failed in their bid to build a big box Target store at Kingsdale. If Ciotola had been in charge of the negotiation, the market would have "dictated" the outcome and UA would likely have a Target store at Kingsdale!

And thanks to Council's moderate, pragmatic majority we will have something much better than Steen or Ciotola were willing to settle for.

The audacity of negotiation

Instead of the passive role of government that Ciotola recommended, the city staff and other Council members embraced their responsibility to the community to get the best deal for UA.

By effectively tempering market forces with the needs of the community as described in the Master Plan they brokered a Kingsdale compromise has been well received throughout our community.

The role of government

 

At the heart of the Kingsdale debate was how active and engaged City government should be in making economic development decisions.

Why follow Gahanna’s lead?

It wasn’t too long ago that the local Gahanna newspaper nicknamed city council meetings “the Tuesday night fights.” Because of dissention among council members and other factors, the community was fading fast. But a determined group of residents, elected officials and city administrators were able to find ways to cooperate and vitalize their city.

The result is the Creekside development, an innovative mix of commercial, retail and living spaces in downtown Olde Gahanna.

Why should Upper Arlington citizens care what happened on the other side of town? Because we have an opportunity to bring innovation to our own area by insisting that Kingsdale once again become a jewel in our city’s crown.

The Regency preliminary proposal is not forward thinking. It is not sensitive to the neighborhood. It requires 16 variances to accomplish. It will not increase city revenues, but will increase demand on city services.

Let’s make our voices heard

Gahanna’s path to being named one of the top 100 cities in the U.S. was not always smooth. But planners listened to public opinion (at one point holding 12 forums to hear what residents thought) and incorporated what they heard into their concepts for Creekside.

Updates: BZAP Kingsdale meeting postponed, Regency promises mixed-use

Update on Kingsdale. An email from the City's Chad Gibson.

 

From: Chad Gibson [mailto:cgibson@uaoh.net]
Sent: Monday, November 19, 2007 2:51 PM
To: [Recipients removed to protect privacy]
Subject: 11/26 BZAP Meeting Postponed

Dear Resident,

Please be advised that the special meeting of the Board of Zoning and Planning to hear the Kingsdale Preliminary Development Plan proposal has been postponed. Regency Centers, LLC has requested a delay until the New Year, per a letter received from its legal representative Smith and Hale LLC on Friday, November 16, 2007, which reads as follows:

"As you know, Regency and the City Staff are currently working on the Regency proposal for the redevelopment of Kingsdale to make the final plan for the center a "win-win" for both the City and Regency. We appreciate the City's efforts to date but after discussions with City staff and their planning consultant, we feel that further study is warranted to investigate the possibility of adding a mixed-use component into the plan. Therefore, because we believe it is beneficial to continue to work with the City, Regency respectfully requests that the hearing before BZAP scheduled for November 26 be tabled or held over to the next BZAP hearing date in January.

Chamber members support mixed use and public funds for Kingsdale

The results from the UA Chamber of Commerce's Kingsdale survey #1 are in:

"... 2 stark results from previous survey include: 88.3% support making Kingsdale a mixed use development, 83.3% support the use of public funds for developing Kingsdale into a focal point for the community"

From the results, it's clear that Chamber members understand the importance of mixed use redevelopment and leveraging the Kingsdale's central location in UA to create a town center. They are also in favor of a public/private partnership.

Here's the Chamber's most recent letter to their membership. It has some excellent facts and observations about Regency's Kingsdale proposal:

High-quality town center or McKingsdale?

Figure 1: 70 ft of big-box retail store side wall. Regency has proposed a 360 ft side wall of Target facing Northwest Blvd.

Kingsdale represents one of the largest commercial sites in Upper Arlington - 38 acres close to the geographic center of the City --- and accounts for over 10% of all commerial real estate in UA.

Responsible economic development is the key to enabling Upper Arlington to maintain its high standards of service and keeping our community a wonderful place to live. But UA faces some challenges common to other “First Ring” suburbs:

  • Built out – no room to grow
  • Aging infrastructure
  • Limited commercial base
  • Declining federal & state support

Especially acute among these is UA's very limited commercial base (see Figure 2). With fewer UA-based businesses and fewer workers paying income taxes, UA relies more heavily on property taxes, than surrounding suburbs (see Figure 4).

So how commercial properties such as Kingsdale get redeveloped is critical to economic development.

Kingsdale: Thinking Outside the Big Box

Progressive viewpoint:

To better the quality of life for Upper Arlington residents, the city must carefully guide the development of commercial and industrial property. Progressives want to increase revenue from commercial property, to keep property taxes down. The way to reach the goal is through careful planning and implementation, as well as actively seeking innovative partnerships with the private sector. It will not be achieved by passively waiting for new, unwise development to enrich the city.

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