Newark Making Historic $80 Million Investment in its Future
If you’ve visited Downtown Newark Ohio recently, you might have noticed a bit of construction going on. In fact, it almost looks as if the entire Downtown area is under reconstruction right now. Mark Mauter, Development Director for the City of Newark, told Columbus Underground during a recent interview that the variety of development projects currently under way, and others still in the pipeline, total an approximately $80 million investment — an unprecedented number for the city.
“This could be most money invested in a span of only about six years,” he said. “I don’t think the city has ever seen that much growth at any time in its history.”
Some of the investment stems from a mandate by the US Environmental Protection Agency for the city to separate its sewer systems from its storm water runoff systems.
“Because we have to tear our roads and sidewalks up throughout Downtown, we’re putting them back down in a new way,” explained Mauter. “We’re going from five-lane streets to two-lane streets around the square, doing away with one way streets, and slowing traffic down to make it more pedestrian safe and business-friendly. We’re also going to have nice wide sidewalks that have been expanded for cafe and patio dining, which we didn’t have room for before.”
Other development projects include a brand new Downtown fire station, a $10 million hotel renovation, a new bridge project for Route 13. The City of Newark is also investing in new technology such as LED lighting for streetlights, which are both a long-term cost savings and more energy efficient.
One of the biggest individual projects for Downtown Newark is the new Canal Market District — a large farmers market facility that can host festivals, live music and other community-centric events. The project represents a $5 million investment into the center of the city, replacing an area that was formerly home to a surface parking lot.
“Just as the Ohio Canal once connected farmers and craftspeople to markets further afield, the Canal Market District will connect local farmers to the people of Newark and Licking County,” explained Senior Operations Director Jazz Glastra during an interview in March.
These public investments have already started driving private development as well. Mauter said that there’s been several Downtown buildings that have been purchased and renovated into ground-floor retail shops with upstairs residential units. The Barrel & Boar opened a Downtown Newark barbecue restaurant in March, and the brand new Market Street Soda Works shop officially opened this past weekend.
“We have the Midland Theatre which brings big name entertainment,” said Mauter. “We’ve also got a hardware store and a grocery store Downtown, which is pretty unique.”
Outside of the Downtown area, Mauter says he expects growth to continue all throughout the city’s limits due to these core investments.
“The areas to the north and east are our prime target areas for growth opportunities,” he stated. “We have quick and easy access to Columbus — it’s a 20 minute drive to 270 on Route 161 — but we don’t have all the congestion and crime of Columbus or Grove City or Hilliard.”
For more information, visit www.newarkohio.net.
All photos by Walker Evans.