Oregon: City changing developer for Town Center project

By: 
Larry Limpf

News Editor
news@presspublications.com

Oregon city officials have decided to contract with a different company for the development of the Town Center project on Navarre Avenue.
City council Monday approved an ordinance authorizing Mayor Mike Seferian to enter into an agreement with River Rock Oregon, based in Toledo, for the first phase of the development project.
Last year, the city entered into a similar agreement with another development firm, Fairmont Properties, Orange Village, Ohio, but the city and firm have mutually decided to terminate that arrangement, Joe Mazur, city administrator, said.
The city is leasing the 12.4-acre parcel that was the site of a Kmart store with the intent of finding a developer that can attract destination retail businesses for the property that sits near the corner of Navarre Avenue and Issac Street Drive.
With its proximity to St. Charles Hospital, Mazur said a major part of Fairmont’s vision for the site was to try to attract medical-related services. But when the COVID pandemic hit, any discussions of possible expansions or additions of such services to the site came to a halt.
“It was an amicable solution between the city and Fairmont to go into a different direction,” he said, adding the city had been working with Fairmont for three years. “We were able to find a developer in River Rock Property Group that has a proven track record and is more local. We have confidence in their capabilities.”
River Rock has an office on Monroe Street in Toledo. Its principals are Bill Bostleman and Mike Denman.
When Fairmont was working on the project, three businesses had signed letters of intent to locate on the property: Olive Garden Restaurant, Home2 Suites by Hilton, and Beerhead Bar and Eatery. Mazur said River Rock will have to determine if they are to be included in its plans for the site.
Another component of the former agreement prohibited any portion of the property being used for vehicle sales or service, adult entertainment establishments, veterinary clinics, billiard, bingo and arcade games, flea markets and pawn shops, and dry cleaners. That too will also have to be reviewed.
The city’s 10-year lease with the owner of the former Kmart property, AMJB, LLC, is in its sixth year and includes an option to purchase.
A Tax Increment Financing abatement agreement between the city and school system remains in place. Under that agreement, the site is to be divided into several TIF districts.
“We have two TIF districts already established and will have at least three more to set up,” Mazur said.
During city council’s last committee of the whole meeting when the agreement ordinance was approved for last week’s full council meeting agenda, Steve Hornyak, council president, said the new agreement puts the city “on the right path.”
“It’s a pivot,” he said. “But I believe it’s a very good pivot for the community.”
The city remains on track with two other developers planning to construct residential units on properties to the south of the Navarre property.
Mazur said the administration expects Geyde Development to break ground this year on single-family units and Cash Waggner & Associates to start this year on apartment units.

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