Grandview Yard

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Understanding Grandview Yard tax revenue

Published August 30, 2016 by justicewg

The city has big plans in store for the future, and unless we are thinking about going to war with Upper Arlington, we will not be funding those plans with more taxable land area. We have some new businesses on Goodale, but that area has about maxed out on value (unless business owners can be convinced to build tall offices). That leaves Grandview Yard as the key to the future increases in finances. The City recently published an overall summary of the financial data available on the Grandview Yard development, let’s dig into the numbers.

Property tax income and TIFs and Pilots

Property value GY

The first chart shows the property market value of the Yard. The TIF value is the additional value that was created by construction, and by agreement with NRI, will mostly be used for infrastructure bonds. The abatements are cuts in taxes given as a lure to build (or what some might say as a give-away to businesses that always have a hand out for corporate welfare).

What you learn from this table – between the TIF and the abatements, the city has not increased tax revenue into the general fund from property tax. If anything, it went down. If the city would have the same reliance on property tax as the school, you would be reading stories in the TVN similar to the “No boon from G.Y.” story that was published this year.

Pilot is the brain of the TIF

We are getting into the complex part of the story when we try to understand PILOTs. I quote from the doc:

Properties in the Grandview Yard TIF pay amounts equal to the property taxes, known as “payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTS)”, as though the TIF had not been established. To the taxpayer in the TIF it is the same amount of money, but behind the scenes it is put into two different “pools”. The entire amount of PILOTs is sent to the City for distribution to the School, Library and Infrastructure Bond Trustee.

While the TIF was being set up, it was an agreed fact that the school and the library could suffer while the old buildings were torn down, and the TIF shuttled money to construction bonds. The PILOT is the brain of the TIF, and sets aside money to help the school and the library. There is complexity in the “Waterfall” of tax money that is diverted in stages to the school first, but I’m not sure if that’s important information. What you learn – the school tax income from G.Y. will be mostly flat.

Employment

According to the doc, there are over 2,000 new employees working at the Yard as of July 31, 2016. That’s not counting construction employees who are building the Yard. We are starting to get into the income tax part of the finances, and it is important to understand who pays income taxes to the city.

(Edit) I had some incorrect info about municipal income taxes, Ohio has some very complex rules. Some cities give 100% credit for income taxes collected outside the city, some 50%, some no credit. So it is possible for some Yard workers to pay taxes both to Grandview and an outside city. There is no breakout of the kind of tax income (personnel or business) in the data shown in this Grandview Finance document.

Business who are located in Grandview do pay income tax here. The 30 new businesses in the Yard will pay significant new income taxes to the city.

Summary of Revenue Created

Summary of Revenue Created

This chart shows a listing of the types of new money at G.Y. Note how much is being sent to the City of Columbus. Also note the size of the hotel tax, which only comes from one hotel, and will soon come from two. The largest non-TIF part of the pie is city income taxes.

Hotel Taxes

I’m working on a new story about how the Hotel taxes are generated and distributed. The only surprise I have at this tax is how well the Grandview Parks and Rec department did with a specific tax slice worth $136,439 last year. It will be something to watch as that number increases.

School Income

School district income from Yard

The school district depends on property taxes for most of their income. As you see in that section of the pie chart, the TIF agreements have held the taxes flat. The only section of the chart that is increasing is the “New Money PILOT”, and that’s only $302K last year, and is not supposed to gain much in the future.

The school can push for even higher property tax, but that will be coming from the rest of the city, not the Yard, which is protected by TIF agreements. The present millage puts us near the top of the chart in property tax rates in F.C., how much more can they expect Grandview residents to pay? Pretty obvious where the school will be going for new taxes in the future.

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Mayor responds to complaints from The Lorax

Published March 25, 2016 by justicewg
Lorax on Flickr

CC Broken Simulacra on Flickr

Mayor DeGraw posted a second message on the Grandview city blog about the removal of trees from the Northwest Boulevard and First intersection. The first message, posted a week before, attempted to explain the reason the city has been working to re-do the trafic pattern for that area, and why the trees must be removed. This week’s post reported that a couple of additional trees would be cut down due to safety concerns.

 

Ribbons didn’t save the trees

I gave a short report on the kerfuffle over the trees in a post last August. A protest lead by (at the time former, now current) city council member Steve Reynolds complained about the cutting of trees for this project, even placing blue ribbons around the trees (which the city removed the next day). The protest didn’t save the trees, but they did point out that there was not enough meetings being held to take comments from the community, and the additional meetings produced a modified plan that saved some of the trees.

A long planning process

The first blog post by the Mayor was a comprehensive accounting of the entire process that lead to the tree cutting on NW Blvd., please read that post for all the good info on the history of the planning that has been done around the Grandview Yard project. Worth your time!

Also, read the Character Framework for Community Investment,(Pdf) a 2013 planning document that was produced by an outside consultant. Five focus group meetings were held that looked at the direction the city could move in the years ahead, knowing the G.Y. would dominate the planning process. It is a good doc that covers some basic info on traffic flow and potential upgrades to the city.

The cars must flow

The biggest reason that the city is remodeling the NW Blvd intersections is to improve traffic flow into and out of the Yard. I think there will be bumper to bumper traffic jams when the 3000 employees at the Nationwide campus (plus other businesses inside G.Y.) are all driving to work in the morning and going home in the evening. The entrances on Third and Goodale are supposed to handle the majority of the flow, but that will be primarily traffic from 315 and areas to the east. I expect that will be how most employees enter at first, but they will quickly find houses to live in the near area. The new employees living inside Grandview and U.A. will be trying to enter from the west side of the Yard, and NW Blvd is the major route. Some will use First Ave too, there was talk about modifications to the intersection at First and Oxley to prevent this, but I don’t know where that is in the current plans.

Back in the dark ages before 315 was upgraded into a freeway, NW Blvd was the standard route for anyone living in the U.A and further north to get to downtown. It was choked with traffic, even after they banned all parking during rush hours and turned it into a four lane throughway. I can see it returning to that state if the traffic into G. Y. gets bad, which will be difficult for the residents who depend on those parking spots. This temporary loss of parking on NW Blvd is a sign of things to come.

Walkable – to what?

A part of the planning process for the Yard was figuring out how to connect it to the rest of the city. We have the Arena District downtown as a stark warning of how development can be localized, leading to choking businesses outside the new development area. There was much talk about how the Arena would bring up all of downtown, but it turned out to be the vampire that sucked the life out of the City Center mall.

The intersection of NW Blvd and First is also being remodeled so that it can be an extension of the walkways already completed that lead into the center of the Yard. Hopefully there will be some people that will walk from the Yard to the strip of businesses on First across from the park. I can’t imagine anyone walking further up the hill to the Grandview Ave shopping area – Americans just don’t like to walk that far.

Here is a possible scenario for the future, one that I have not heard mentioned and is not in any planning document.

The school board has been making lots of warning signals that they want to build new schools. A panel to review the school physical facilities has been created, an outside firm is working on recommendations, which I’m sure will somehow align closely with the already stated wants of the board, which has paid the consultant generously.

Stevenson school will no doubt be pointed out as a “decrepit building” that needs replaced. Nothing wrong with it right now, but I’m sure a 90 year old building can be declared shockingly outdated and hindering the education of our children, if the board is in the mood to get on the gravy train and build schools. Closing Stevenson and building a massive new building that included other grades can be an expected path for the school board.

Wouldn’t it be just an amazing coincidence if the board wanted to close Stevenson and build an elementary building somewhere else, and then the old Stevenson building became the perfect place to extend the retail shopping area on First? “The Shops in Stevenson” has a catchy name.

Mayor to hold “Community Conversations” meetings

Mayor DeGraw has announced meetings at the shelter house at Wyman Woods on April 12 at 6:00 p.m. and again Wednesday, April 13th at 8:30 a.m, so he can answer questions from the community about current and planned city projects, and discuss community issues.

NRI lays out the future of Grandview Yard

Published June 30, 2014 by justicewg
Brian Ellis announces the new Nationwide Ins. campus at Grandview Yard

Brian Ellis announces the new Nationwide Ins. campus at Grandview Yard

The future will be dominated by the Nationwide Insurance campus. The retail dream of a mini-Easton might have been a possibility back in 2007, but it’s dead now. There were some holes in the map of the Yard that were plotted as ghost white possibilities, but it seems clear that the Yard will be a Nationwide Insurance campus foremost, with 1300 residential units second priority. Another hotel, and retail and food/drink establishments will fill in the gaps, as announced at the June 30, 2014 meeting.

I was encouraged to see the three new parking structures placed firmly on the map. A couple of years ago when the future of the Yard seemed to be headed for a big box store dominated retail there were surface parking lots plotted all over the map. The four story parking buildings will go a long way to insure that the development has the right density of mixed-use construction.

The big surprise was a new 135 room hotel and conference center, with a ballroom for 300 and multi-use areas. I always wondered how it could be possible for the hotel market to have any room for expansion given the new hotel on Olentangy and the hotel being constructed in the short north. Somebody thinks that the market is not saturated. The hotel taxes from the current Hyatt Place has been a boost to the city, if the new hotel is as popular the taxes will be a windfall for the city.

Well, almost a windfall. The current businesses in the Grandview Yard have not caused much of an increase in city employment, but as the thousands of jobs move into the office buildings and retail businesses open in this round of expansion, city police and fire personnel will need to increase.

Mayor Degraw wins big time

Mayor Degraw wins big time

We should be glad?

Mayor DeGraw took some time to point out that Nationwide Insurance is a top 100 corporation who had a lot of different choices in where they could have located their campus, and that Grandview should take pride in being the kind of place where a top business would want to move. There was a bit of obsequiousness toward Nationwide in that pronouncement.

Ray has done some good work for the city, and he will go down in the history books as being the Mayor who brought our small, landlocked, drifting into obscurity city into the big time, while the rest of the region suffered through a major recession. There was no guarantee the G.Y. development would succeed. He has every reason to feel thankful for Nationwide’s choice.

If I were the Mayor of Dublin or Westerville though, who will lose all those jobs, I would not be so happy. There is an element of Greek tragedy to modern business machinations, in which the Gods make their moves while us little people dance around and must cope with tragedy or are blessed with good fortune.

There is a term in business called “eating your own dog food”. That happens when a business uses its own product in the daily business activities of the company. This doesn’t happen as much as you would expect, because the people who make the product are fully aware of the limitations.

Did Nationwide Insurance “eat their own dogfood” when they selected their own development for their campus? Nationwide Realty Investors is a subsidiary of the Insurance company, the choices the insurance part make are supposed to be independent of the investment arm. But it sort of looks like dog food chow to me.

Poor map of the Yard, I added some callouts. Click to bigifye.

Poor map of the Yard, I added some callouts. Click to bigifye.

Connecting the Yard with the city

One of the most difficult problems for the city has been connecting Grandview Yard with the rest of the city. When the area was light industrial, nobody wanted to walk there, and the street layouts helped to wall it off from the rest of the city. Now that the Yard is trying to become a walkable destination, the old layout works against the plan. The solution on the maps for now is to re-build the intersection of First Ave. and NW Boulevard, and create a walker friendly, tree lined entrance to the Yard as an extension of First. The new improved road into the Yard will end at a 2 acre park, roughly in front of the Nationwide campus.

This also enhances the car traffic into the Yard. The planners expect Third Ave, and Goodale to be the main traffic feeders for the Yard, but First Ave. will also become a commuter route for local traffic. An expert hired by the city said that 8 percent of the traffic on First would be going to the Yard.

Residents at the meeting were not happy with the though of sleepy commuters driving down First in the morning, as the kids are being dropped off at Stevenson. Even with a relocated school entrance and drop off area to the east on Hilo Lane, the additional traffic on First will be a problem for the school. A board member at the meeting said they were not involved in the negotiations with NRI, explained by the city council as being needed for sensitive talks.

How do you make an inviting connector to the Grandview Yard without increasing car traffic? My suggestion – widen the road and plant the trees, but make the road going into the Yard at First a bicycle path and walking route, and keep the cars out of this entrance to the development.

Where is this push-back originating?

I had a short email conversation with council president Panzara, mainly to find copies of the traffic studies that were mentioned at the meeting. His take on the traffic problems that G.Y. might cause was that the issue was overblown by the reporters at the meeting. He had personally gotten very few comments or question from Grandview residents about traffic problems.

Today in the Dispatch (July 7) there is an unsigned editorial that is headlined “Increased traffic is manageable” , it is a rebuttal to the questions about the traffic that will be driving into the yard every day. Like the council at the meeting, we are reminded that this was all in the planning documents since 2009, so our objections are unreasonable. Never mind that the whole plan for the business tenants and expected traffic has changed multiple times in the years since the first announcement, we should have foreseen the future and raised objections five years ago.

Then the editorial states “But Grandview is an urban suburb, and that means traffic”. As the first commenter to this editorial reminds us, Grandview Heights likes to think of itself as a small town surrounded by the big city, but still small enough to avoid bad traffic. If the choice was living with choking traffic (like Powell, OH), and  receiving all the new taxes, or forgoing the big development for more modest traffic, I think the majority of the residents would vote for less traffic. (I don’t think Powell levels of traffic were in the plans, but I have yet to read the documents).

Why are the small time traffic questions for Grandview Heights receiving editorial page coverage in the Dispatch? Oh , I forgot, “Capitol Square Limited, the commercial real-estate arm of The Dispatch Printing Company, publisher of The Dispatch, owns a 20 percent stake in Grandview yard.” Funny that this disclaimer is often included in articles, but is not added to the editorials in the paper.

Another Dispatch article was printed on July 8th, telling us about the funding for the streets and other public utilities inside the Yard. The issues with traffic on First Ave. were again mentioned, with assurances that the city had plans to cope with the increases.

Big announcement about the Yard Monday evening

Published June 30, 2014 by justicewg
NRI announcment 2007

NRI announces the start of Grandview Yard in the middle school, Dec. 19, 2007.

Mayor Ray DeGraw will be giving us the details of a new development in the Grandview Yard on Monday at 5:30, in the Community Center. A big change in focus for the Yard will be on the way following Nationwide Insurance’s announcement that they will be moving 3K jobs to new offices inside the development. There have been stories about the move in the Dispatch and the Business First.

Two thoughts on this news before the meeting.

This will mean jobs and a big increase in the income taxes Grandview will be receiving from the Yard. So, hooray. I’m not so happy about getting those jobs by taking them away from Dublin and Westerville. This moving jobs around inside the central Ohio area is not real growth, it is moving the chess pieces. Grandview might be the winner now, but if the numbers are run in 10 years and some place else looks better, we could be left with a lot of empty buildings as Nationwide moves on.

Second, this is not bringing us any nearer to the large retail shopping development that was promised back in 2007. Although NRI never said anything other than “commercial development”, we were hoping for a Mini-Easton. I don’t see how that is possible now with 500K sq. ft. of office space being used up by Nationwide (the current offices built and in construction are only 200K). We will hear NRI’s plans on Monday, I’ll be interested in hearing them say if any big retail shopping is now possible, or if that dream is dead.

Panera to Grandview Yard, C.M. to build steakhouse in that spot

Published January 24, 2014 by justicewg

Panera is moving the restaurant on Grandview Ave. over to Grandview Yard by the new Giant Eagle. This would put it north of third, outside Grandview (but because of the tax sharing agreement it would not be a total loss for Grandview taxes.)(later edit, I’m not sure if the agreement with Columbus contained tax sharing). The construction of more restaurants around the Giant eagle was in the plans announced back when the grocery was first mentioned, others may be on the way.

The building where the Panera is now sitting will be used by Cameron Mitchell to build a steakhouse. No word yet on the name, construction to be completed sometime after late 2015.

This is an interesting move. The nightmare outcome of the Grandview Yard development has always been for the Grandview Avenue strip to become a row of empty buildings as the shopping and dining moved into the Yard. If this plan by C.M. is firm, it shows that at least one restaurant owner is betting that the Grandview strip will continue to attract visitors.

It’s a Market District store

Giant Eagle finally confirmed that the store in the Yard will be a Market District. wow. such food. much districting.
From CU user heresthecasey, don't know where they found it.

Loeb Electric moving also

This was last year’s news but I missed the story. Loeb Electric has been in Grandview for years and has been a top 10 employer for number of jobs. The lure of money from the Yard has made them sell the Williams Ave. property and move to a west fifth location.

The taxes from those jobs will be replaced by new employers in Grandview Yard at some point. Probably. Cross fingers. No new commercial development in the Yard that would have a similar number of jobs is currently in the pipe.

What is Giant Eagle building in Grandview Yard?

Published November 14, 2013 by justicewg
Giant Eagle construction

Giant Eagle construction

Back in April of 2012 the question of what Giant Eagle will build in the section of Grandview Yard that is north of 3rd avenue seemed to be a settled question. NRI told us it would not be a Market District store, similar to the one Upper Arlington. Maybe it would have a Get-Go gas station, but not a Market District.

Brian Ball, a staff reporter for Business First is now saying that the building permits show 90,000 square feet on the main floor and 9,000 square feet on a mezzanine. That is the same size that was reported last year for the main floor, but the large mezzanine suggests something new, maybe a Mini Market District?

Here is some rank speculation based on no inside knowledge. The rapid construction of the Millers Ale House (may be open by this time next week) and the Pizza Cucinova next door on Olentangy has caused a shift in strategy. The old plans for the property around the new Giant Eagle included some restaurants, which may be on hold to avoid a restaurant war. The Giant Eagle will now have the cafeteria style food of the Market District, figuring the fast-casual market segment is filled but aiming lower will have some success.

Giant Eagle is not commenting until the store is ready to open.

(Jan. 23rd, confirmed it’s a Market District store)

Hofbrauhaus

The TVN says that a restaurant and German-style beer hall called Hofbrauhaus will be built in the southeast corner of the yard. This is now an empty field in front of the office building and Hyatt Place.

Yea, more development, more tax income for us Grandview residents, but – another restaurant? How many can the area support, after the Millers and the Pizza Cucinova are both completed? The story talks about another office building to be built in the future, we need more of those (plus the retail sales stores that have been so slow to appear).

Tax questions for candidates (and a TIF flashback) – G.W.

Published September 23, 2013 by justicewg

One of the most important facts that any candidate for office in Grandview Heights must know is how the tax negotiations with NRI were made, and the results that we can expect from those deals in the future. TIFs are complex, but all candidates, both city council and school board, will have to deal with them, and understand how they affect current policy. We have had a slow start to the development, but with more housing units on the way we are well into dealing with the outcome, and it will be a top concern for years to come.

If a candidate comes to my door, the most important question I could ask would be “Can you give me a short lesson on the TIF agreements with NRI in the Grandview Yard development?” If they sputter and talk in generalities and obviously don’t know what was done in those TIF agreements, they have not done their homework, and should not receive your vote.

To help give you a better base of knowledge on the TIF here is a post from July 2009 that covered the negotiations with the school board. Be sure to read both the post and the link it contains to the TVN story about the deal.

(From July 2009)

A story in the TWG had a lot of detail for the negotiations with NRI over the compensation the schools will get from the G.Y. project. Read the story for the exact numbers, the school seems like they have worked out a sliding scale of increased compensation with steps in the number of housing units.

I sent an email asking O’Reilly about the quote where he seems to imply that accepting the deal from NRI on the number of units is not up for negotiation.

You are quoted saying about a possible cap on the number of housing units in G.Y., “If we put in a cap the 11% is gone and the other pieces are gone”.
Can you explain what would be gone if a cap was put in place?
How do you know that those elements of the deal with NRI would be gone with a cap – has NRI said that it is nonnegotiable?

This was his quick reply:

I am assuming you are expecting a complete answer from me and I wish to provide that to you.

I would prefer to wait until the negotiations are finalized and approved. However, I can tell you it is my feeling that it was going to be extremely difficult to get agreement on any caps that would be meaningful.

In addition, we were able to negotiate receiving a higher percentage of compensation as the number of residential units increases.

In providing more information surrounding my quote, if we pressed for a hard cap and NRI would agree, we would have needed to renegotiate our compensation package (which includes 11% of the total increase taxable valuable of the improvements plus an additional percentage of any residential growth) with the city to lower levels than we are set to receive (if NRI would actually agree to a cap).

I will also share that in order for the finances of this to work out for NRI, they will need to self-impose residential limits.  Money to pay the bonds from the TIF will be generated at a much greater rate from the commercial side versus the residential side. Ed O’Reilly.

OK, the deal is still on the table. But the question is still present – why can’t Grandview place a hard cap on the number of units? What is NRI going to do, walk away from the table? The school has a limited ability to accept new students without hitting the wall and becoming required to build a new school. When that happens, the money gets tight fast. Read the rest of this entry →