CIRCLEVILLE – Downtown Revitalization we hear a lot of talk about it lately. Revitalization of the downtown buisness face of our community. When a downtown struggles with high vacancies and disinvestment it effects the reputation of the city. The question is how does a city turn this around?
Circleville is considering the creation of a “Revitalization District” for downtown Circleville to improve the economy of downtown Circleville. Involving approximately 150 acres of property in and around the downtown area, the plan would focus on allowing new alcohol licenses to be permitted in a town that has heavy restrictions on new license available in the city.
Filed in July by Paul Johnson and Richard Rhodes, the Revitalization District plan is a newly-created segment of the Ohio Revised Code that “includes a combination of entertainment, retail, educational, sporting, social, and cultural or arts establishments within a close proximity to hotels, retail, restaurants and other commercial enterprises”. Created in 2008, its goal is to assist in the re-development of municipalities with populations of less than 100,000 people. The law allows for additional D5-class liquor licenses, which allow liquor sales as late as 2:30am on a daily basis. The law would allow the creation of 15 additional liquor permits within the Revitalization District, but restricts them to restaurants that will generate 75% of incomes by other, non-alcoholic means such as food.
During the Public Hearing at City Council on August 4, 2018, Don Mcllroy said, “I think it is important we talk about something near and dear to everyone, why don’t we have more restaurants in the city of Circleville and Pickaway County. It is probably the number one question and concern I receive, and its a straightforward answer it’s about marketing. When I go out and look at all the steakhouses that people of Circleville think they need here, and I talked to them all over Ohio and Kentucky and made numerous phone calls. Heres the bottom line to that, they are already in Chillicothe, they are in Lancaster, in Grove City, and Columbus. We are already in their market. They say to me, why do we need to build in Circleville when Circleville already comes to us your already in our market. So this is one of the things we need to overcome. We should have done something like this 10-12 years ago, to try and stay ahead of those surrounding towns that are way ahead of us now. In my letter to the city council, my recommendation is to get ahead on this and set a timeline.”
Mcllroy then offered his perspective of improvements he thought the city needed when he came into office. “When I came into office seven years ago I knew we had to improve several things. We needed to improve our school system, and I think we have done that, our roads and I think we need to do that, and we need to improve our quality of life, and that’s not just parks and recreation. Its bringing people into a downtown area where they can enjoy it and have fun. I think we are beginning to do this with this application. My recommendation is to adopt this ordinance of the creation of the revitalization district and get ahead not fall behind as we have in the past.”
Currently, one alcohol license is up for sale in Circleville for 27,000 dollars. In other towns like Ashville, this same license costs 10% of that. Two separate licenses owned by Rankin are in limbo with the State with no plans yet to release them. Two interested parties mentioned in the hearing tonight an Irish pub, and a microbrewery. These special D-5 liquor licenses that mandate 75% food or other non-alcohol sales will cost about 2,500 dollars. “This revitalization allows the young entrepreneur to get his foot in the door, said Mcllroy, We need to do this if we want to survive as a vibrant downtown, this has to happen.”
Downtown business owners pointed at Chillicothe’s downtown, and said this is one of the first steps. They mentioned how diverse Chillicothe business is now and how it has become a hub for business in the area. Other comparisons were angled parking, signage, and downtown parking enforcement.