HEATH – The town of Heath has always been attractive to commercial developers, but interest in properties in the town has suddenly skyrocketed, prompting consideration of adding an employee to the building and zoning department of the city.
On Monday, Mayor Mark Johns discussed hiring plans with the council’s Community Development Committee in response to commercial and residential development plans and inquiries, possibly following the development of the Intel computer chip in western Licking County.
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Johns, who took office in 2010, said current interest in the development was unprecedented during his tenure.
“Since I’ve been mayor, we’ve had two people in this department, and the pace of their workload, you could easily say two people was all we needed,” Johns said. “But the workload coming into this department now is a lot more. And in all likelihood will be more for the foreseeable future.”
Jared Lane, director of construction and zoning since replacing Eddie Hunt 11 months ago, is joined by the department’s zoning inspector Brandon Francis.
“I think we need to hire someone else in this department,” Johns said. “Things are going to change across the county. It’s going to happen as soon as the sun comes up in the east. What we’re trying to do is make it work for us.
“I think we are well positioned to accommodate additional housing in the community, additional land for manufacturing development that could perhaps be used by Intel suppliers or ancillary businesses related to Intel work. “
Lane said an area of interest is approximately 100 acres in the area around Franklin Avenue, Irving Wick Drive and Dorsey Mill Road, where land could be annexed for single and multi-family housing,
“There’s a strong interest in housing and other types of businesses,” Lane said.
Another development will be a Dunkin donuts on the corner of Hebron Road and Radian Drive, where a Loan Max building was recently demolished.
Sheetz, which opened a gas station, convenience store and restaurant on March 29 on North 21st Street in Newark, also plans to build in Heath. City officials said the project was not finalized and they could not reveal the location.
The Newark Sheetz store features a 6,077 square foot brick and stone building for the convenience store and restaurant, indoor and outdoor seating, and a fuel canopy for eight pumps.
The mayor said there has been interest in the 4-acre Hebron Road site where Knight’s Inn was demolished three years ago and which Casto is looking to develop. Casto is the owner of the Cross Creek Mall.
“I understand there is interest in this property, but I don’t think there is any contract signed by Casto,” Johns said.
A Casto official said in 2019 that the new development would consist of two to four buildings, most likely retail, including some recognizable brands, at least one restaurant and no residential.
Further south on Hebron Road, Coughlin Hyundai is planning a 5,000 square foot addition to its dealership, using the space for a new service bay and sales area, Lane said.
John Hinderer cleared land opposite the Heath Municipal Building for the expansion of the dealership he purchased from Tri-County Chrysler.
Other developments include White Cottage Barn, a wedding venue coming to Heath Road, and storage units on 30th Street and Hopewell Drive.
City Critical Manufacturing Sites
The committee meeting included a bus tour of the Central Ohio Aerospace and Technology Center campus developments on James Parkway and Enterprise Drive, as well as land available for development around Thornwood Drive.
The tour, led by Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority President and CEO Rick Platt, provided new council members with an overview of projects the city and Port Authority have cooperated on , and those developed by Southgate Corporation.
“The theme of this is that we did this together,” Platt said. “I think what Heath has achieved in manufacturing is the envy of the state. To have 11 specific buildings in a community of 10,000. There are entire counties that haven’t seen 11 specific buildings in their history, let alone over the past 11 years.”
The Port Authority owns and operates COATC, Ohio’s largest freestanding port authority with more than 20 businesses and 1,861 employees on 350 acres, with a combined payroll of $137 million.
Construction continues on the 30,000 square foot Port Authority building on James Parkway across from Nature’s One, which will be ready for occupancy June 1.
Southgate plans to construct a 150,000 square foot specification building at the end of International Drive, its sixth on-campus specification building and largest. It will be the 11th specification building built by Southgate or the Port Authority in a dozen years.
International Drive, a road built in 2015, will have five specification buildings when Southgate constructs its final facility. The cost of building the Port Authority is ultimately passed on to the companies that purchase land and facilities.
Rob O’Neill, chairman of Southgate Corporation, said having land without buildings is no longer enough to attract development. Some companies purchased a specific building and then chose to expand the facility.
“You have to have a building,” O’Neill said. “You have to have a product on the shelf. There’s an ebb and flow. Specific buildings will sit for a while. It adds new products to the market. These are opportunities for new businesses to come in. and settling in, which really diversifies things.”
O’Neill said the 150,000 square foot structure could be a multi-tenant building with two or three tenants, or one tenant could take it all.
“It will be bigger (than the other buildings),” Platt said. “The site lends itself to that. We’re just seeing an increased demand for more space.”
Behr Process Corporation, which supplies architectural paints and exterior wood care products to the U.S. and Canadian DIY markets, received state tax credits to build a 320,000 square foot facility on the COATC campus , just south of Boeing and Bionetics.
Platt said the Port Authority was committed to expanding manufacturing, not warehouses. He rejected an Owens Corning warehouse for the site that Behr will occupy. Owens Corning still built its 750,000 square foot warehouse in Heath, between Thornwood Drives and Keller Drives.
Behr plans to create 90 full-time positions, generating $4.4 million in new annual payroll at the site.
The Port Authority also plans to develop 330 acres — 300 acres formerly owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus and 30 acres formerly owned by the Ohio Department of Transportation — in Seminary Ridge Business Park, located south of Seminary Road in west of Thornwood Drive, and extending south of Beaver Run Road.