Main Street and Enclave project moves forward in Northwood

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Northwood expects to take bids this year to build a new community center where the former Woodville Mall was located.
        Five acres of the 120 acre site, off Woodville Road, will be dedicated to the construction of the new center. 
        The site has been vacant since the city demolished dilapidated buildings that made up the mall years ago. Plans call for a $7 million Main Street and Enclave project on the property, a multi-use development comprised of small businesses, a restaurant, senior living facilities and residential subdivisions.
        The state capital budget last month included a $1 million grant for the new community center at the site. It was a shot in the arm to get the process going, according to Northwood Administrator Bob Anderson.
        “We asked for $1.5 million. Getting two-thirds of that is pretty darned good,” said Anderson.
        “We hope it will be a catalyst to start the Main Street and Enclave project,” he added.
        He compared the $1 million grant to buying a lottery ticket.
        “You hope to win, but your expectations are not really that high. But lo and behold, we got a call from our state representative to say we got $1 million for the community center,” said Anderson.
        “The community center is something we requested at the end of 2019,” said Glenn Grisdale, of Reveille, the city’s economic development advisor. “We had to get the request in to our state representatives. That got the dialogue going in the state house. We found out early in December that we were awarded the $1 million in the state capital budget. That made everyone happy. It helps us to confirm and validate our `Age in Place’ theme, and site plan we put together, has merit. We knew it had merit locally. This goes a long way to round out all the uses that we’re having on that footprint.” 
Main Street
        The first phase of the project includes the construction of a main road, which will go from the former mall entrance off Woodville Road to East Plaza Drive, which connects to State Route 579, according to Anderson.
        “We’re going to call it `Main Street,’ because we don’t have a main street in Northwood.”
        The city expects to take bids on the road next month, said Anderson.
        “”We just had a talk with some architects and with our engineer. We hope to have the bid package done by the end of January. Hopefully, we should be able to bid that out in February. City council has approved of us bidding it out. Council would have to approve the final bid. There are still some questions about the cost. But we’re moving ahead with the project.”
        The community center will include office space for the Wood County Committee on Aging and the Wood County Health Department, he said.
        The rest of the site will include development of various uses, including a restaurant, senior and residential housing, and small businesses, he added.
        “We are talking to senior living developers and health care providers right now,” said. “We have one restaurant that is a little bit interested. We’re still working on it.”
        Smaller villas and condos that target senior living are planned, he said.
        “Younger people can move into them, too. But the smaller living arrangements would be something aimed at seniors who have raised families and want to downsize,” he said. “That’s the trend. It’s a hot market.”
        The community center, said Grisdale, may be “co-mingled in” with discussions the city is having with senior living and medical providers.
        “We might be able to get to an economy of scale with this footprint to where we don’t have to do three individual projects, but maybe one larger facility that’s connected to other bits and pieces of other footprints. That’s what we’re trying to plan right now.”
        There will be enough space in the center for community rooms, meeting rooms, and activity centers, said Grisdale.
        “We know what we generally want and what we might be able to have, which would require additional due diligence for us to reach out to the Wood County public library, Wood County senior services and other non-profits in the area to see if they would want to be actively located within this community center to provide a sub service of what they do.”
        There is no desire for a big box store at the site, he added.
        “We’re trying to provide for a neighborhood that is well integrated, that provides everyone with some level of inter-activity and excitement at the right entry point. It will stay relevant for the next several decades,” said Grisdale.
         When the city gets bids on the new road, it will make it easier for the city to attract further development at the site, he said.
          “Once that first shovel of earth is moved, it will let the world know we’re committed. Nobody is inspired by a parking lot.”


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