TWINSBURG — The pieces are coming together for a planned downtown development project that would include a blend of residential and commercial development.
Mayor Ted Yates said that "85 percent of the property is assembled at this point," referring to land on the east side of Darrow Road, across the street from the Twinsburg Town Center shopping center.
Yates said that the city will "probably will go out in the next 60 to 90 days to gauge interest in the project."
"We hope to connect Creekside if possible," Yates said. "The plans for the downtown area would incorporate a combination of retail, restaurants and residential. We have been working with property owners in the Southeast quadrant of the central area to assemble land. Our focus now is marketing the site to investors and developers."
Larry Finch, Director of Planning and Community Development, said "Our primary focus will be the land east of Darrow Road between the Post Office and north to East Aurora Road."
Finch said the city still must coordinate with the Twinsburg Community Improvement Corporation to decide how a potential developer will be selected.
Bill Furey, councilman at-large and the president of the Twinsburg Community Improvement Corporation, said that the property in question includes about 12 acres, including the former old school lot and a couple acres owned by the TCIC just north of the post office.
About 5.45 acres of land between the publicly owned properties is in private hands. The privately held properties have a single owner, who could not be reached for this story, and are worth a total of $1.5 million. The properties include houses mainly used for small business. The buildings date back to 1880, 1915 and 1920, according to Summit County property records.
"We are assembling properties and working as a team to promote the C5 district in the center of the city," Furey said, speaking about the TCIC and the city. "We are making progress on it."
Finch said the city will prepare a request for proposal "to the development community to explore interest and to qualify potential developer partners."
"We are currently in the process of developing this RFP document and determining what capabilities and project experience we will be seeking," Finch said. "We also need to determine how we will get the word out to the development community."
The next TCIC meeting is March 2 at 6 p.m., in City Hall.
Route 82 and Church Street future development
Furey said the 12 acre area on Darrow Road is not currently being considered for a downtown redevelopment district that would allow tax incentives for development, although he added incentives could be offered in the future.
"We hope to get someone to make the investment in downtown Twinsburg," he said of the Darrow Road properties. "We hope for unified front rather than multiple entities. It’s a good location, with fantastic egress and ingress out there. We think it's a good spot. We are still in the beginning stages. We are trying to remove obstacles to make progress."
The TCIC has previously considered taking advantage of 2016 legislation that allows municipalities to exempt up to 70 percent of the increased value of parcels in a downtown redevelopment district from property taxes for parcels along Route 82.
According to Finch, each DRD must consist of no more than 10 acres, and there must be at least one building that is either on the National Register of Historic Places, locally landmarked or recognized as being historic.
Finch said that Twinsburg’s downtown has two such buildings. One is Twinsburg Institute at 8996 Darrow Road, which was listed in 1976 and which the historical society uses as a local history museum, and the Twinsburg Congregational Church on the public square, which was listed in 1974, according to information provided by the National Register of Historic Places.
Furey said that there are tentative plans to work with the land near the Twinsburg Congregational Church under the 2016 legislation.
However, the city is waiting to see if the Moses Roach House is entered into the National Registry of Historic Places. The Roach House currently has the offices for the Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce. The house, built in 1873, was purchased by the city in 1998. The historical society purchased it from the city, with certain conditions, that seven specific improvements and repairs be made. Bonnie Williams, president of the Twinsburg Historical Society, said that some projects are finished, including a new front ramp and back porch.
"The foundation repairs are waiting for warmer weather," Williams said.
Andy Tomko, past president of the historical society, said that he was "still waiting" to hear back regarding the possibility of getting the Roach House on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @AprilKHelms_RPC