Plan for Prominent Corner on West Side Spurs Debate
A plan to develop six acres of vacant land at the corner of West Broad Street and Georgesville Road received zoning approval from the city’s Development Commission last week.
Timothy Ryan, who is representing the buyer of the property – BSTP Midwest – said that the plan calls for a Thornton’s gas station, a hotel and a restaurant.
It’s the gas station part that has drawn the ire of some residents.
“I think the biggest concern for the area is that’s a prime location, and we want to hold out for something better than a gas station,” said Shawn Maddox, who chairs the zoning committee of the Greater Hilltop Area Commission.
The property, at 4053 W. Broad St., sits just north of the Columbus Hollywood Casino.
The commission voted down BSTP Midwest’s proposal at its meeting on January 8th. Because area commission votes are only advisory, the plan then proceeded to the Development Commission, where it was approved. The next step would be a vote from City Council.
If the project is approved, work would start on the gas station first, according to Ryan. A developer has signed a letter of intent to build a Holiday Inn-branded hotel on the site, he said, although no user has been lined up for the restaurant space.
Maddox said that because the parcel is already zoned to allow hotel and restaurant use, the gas station was the only matter being considered by the commission – a zoning variance is required to allow fuel sales at the location.
Some residents are also concerned that the hotel and restaurant may never materialize. Although a recent plan to build an RV park behind the casino appears to be moving forward, the immediate area has not seen the influx of development that many had hoped would follow the the opening of the casino in 2012 (a lack of movement that includes nearby Westland Mall, which remains vacant).
A proposal for the same piece of land was brought before the zoning committee of the area commission for an informal review last summer. That plan, which called for developing the entire site as a large gas station, received push back from the committee and resulted in the hotel and restaurant being added to the development.
Ryan is hopeful that his client will be able to move forward with what he described as a six to eight million dollar investment in the neighborhood.
He also wants to make sure people know that – despite the inclusion of truck fueling lanes in the rear of the station – the proposed Thornton’s would not offer overnight truck parking, showers, or any other amenities associated with large highway travel centers.
“Somewhere along the line, it’s gotten out there that we’re building a truck stop,” he said. “I want to reiterate that in no way, shape or form are we building a truck stop.”
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