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Op-ed: People of Delaware County will never recover from Planet Oasis

Sean Buzenski

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“Queuing on the exit ramps at the interchange routinely extends onto the freeway mainline, causing operational and safety concerns. Stopped traffic on I-71 northbound during the afternoon peak hour is a near-daily occurrence as traffic waits to exit onto US 36/SR 37. Unfortunately, the resulting increase in traffic is crippling the potential for future growth.” -Ohio Department of Transportation on the Improved Interchange at I-71 & Routes 36/37 & Proposed Sunbury Parkway​​​​.

“We call this the ultimate entertainment experience,” developer David Glimcher told The Dispatch. He went on to say Planet Oasis is “the biggest project in Ohio for the past 40 or 50 years.”

“So many varied experiences in one area will be a magnet for 100 million people within a five hour drive to unwind and enjoy adventures together,” Matt MacLaren director of Ohio tourism told The Dispatch.

Before delving into these quotes, let me first start out by saying I am a resident of Delaware County and I am very much concerned about Planet Oasis, the entertainment complex planned for my area.

Now, I have honed in on these quotes because they seem to be the most concerning examples from professionals about what is going to happen to the place my family and I call home.

Let’s break them down.

Fact 1: The interchange at interstate 71 and US36/SR37 is overwhelmed in its current state and it seems to be the opinion of the Ohio Department of transportation that the potential for any growth in the area has been crippled.

Fact 2: This is the biggest project in Ohio in the last 40 or 50 years.

Fact 3: The target audience is 100 million of our closet neighbors within a five hour drive.

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When considering all these facts, the most glaringly obvious issue that surfaces would be the total lack of preparedness of the highway system.

Time and time again, we all have seen road construction plans become outdated and crews becoming overwhelmed while trying to meet the completion deadline. This is, of course, made evident by the constant presence of our beloved orange barrels.

This will no doubt be the case again.

And not only will my newborn child be graduating from high school by the supposed completion date of 2035, but the plan for the new exit from 71 N, south of 36/37 will cut a wide gash through Berkshire Township and Sunbury leaving no area unscathed.

There are already questions arising as to how Berkshire township’s infrastructure and it’s 3,085 residents (according to the 2010 census) are going to be able to coexist and even survive next to this gargantuan project boastfully projecting 4,000 to 5,000 hotel rooms, at least 70 restaurants, and the 15,000 to 25,000 jobs that will be created.

Which leads me to my next point: Planet Oasis seems to be shoving the job creation aspect of the complex into the forefront but I don’t believe this should be a bragging point at all.

It is my humble opinion that the majority of those jobs will be low paying hourly wage/part time jobs owing nothing to the employees in terms of healthcare or any other benefits for that matter.

Lastly, I would like to personally thank Planet Oasis for making it all too obvious how little concern they have for our beautiful land and nature in general with their helium balloon launch at their kickoff event at A.D. Farrow Harley Davidson.

There are so many causes for concern that have not even been openly considered, too; water consumption, air and light pollution, rise in crime rates, police and fire that will be responsible for the safety of all of these employees and visitors, etc. etc.

Developers haven’t even broken ground yet and I believe we already have enough evidence to know this is a project the people of Delaware County will never be able to recover from.

—Sean Buzenski, concerned Sunbury resident

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Biz + Dev

Major North Market Tower updates unveiled

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One of the most talked-about developments in downtown Columbus has gotten its first major update in over two years. The latest design for the mixed-use development on the site of the North Market parking lot was unveiled yesterday, along with changes to to the programming inside the tower.

Originally planned to be 35 stories, plans for the North Market Tower now call for a 26-ish-story development (final floor count has yet to be determined). The floor plates have also widened in the new design. Additionally, a hotel was added to the mixed-use development, which is to include office, parking, and residential space.

The 150-unit residential component of North Market Tower has undergone a change, too. All development partners have agreed to dedicate 15-20 percent of the units to residents making 80-100 percent of Area Median Income. The pricing for these units is referred to as “workforce housing.” According to the the latest figures available by the Department of Numbers, the Area Median Income of metropolitan Columbus is $63,764.

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What has remained unchanged since the beginning is the delegation of market space in the ground floor of North Market Tower. This will expand the existing North Market building by about 50 percent, creating room for more vendors and seating areas.

North Market has long relied upon revenue from the parking lot to help cover operational expenses. Because the North Market Tower would eliminate the parking lot, developers have created a long-term capital fund plan to compensate for the lost parking revenue.

The changes were approved by the North Market Development Collaborative with City Council expected to vote at its July 22 meeting. The project will need approval from the North Market Historic District and the Downtown Commission, too, before it can proceed.

Construction is anticipated to begin in Summer 2020.

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Funding for downtown Crew stadium being decided tonight

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The financial fate of the new Crew SC soccer stadium, as well as Mapfre Stadium, will be determined at tonight’s Columbus City Council meeting.

City Council is set to vote on its share of a $295.4 million public-private development package to build a new Downtown soccer stadium. The vote will also include the revamp of Mapfre Stadium.

Officials have proposed moving Crew SC’s practice facility to Mapfre Stadium, and also using it for a shared-use center with an indoor soccer field, basketball court, and outdoor athletic fields. It would be rebranded to the Columbus Community Sports Park.

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“The city will contribute $50 million toward costs associated with the design and construction of the community sports park; public infrastructure improvements necessary to support the project and the mixed-use development; and other costs of the project, other than stadium costs,” the ordinance states, per The Columbus Dispatch.

Money from the city and other public contributions, including $45 million from Franklin County, will make up about half of the project’s cost. The team will finance the remainder of the project, reports The Columbus Dispatch.

The project is estimated to generate 1,300 full-time jobs, including about 600 construction jobs. A fall ground breaking is expected.

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Columbus’ next rooftop bar will be in a familiar Brewery District building

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Something new is brewing at a pre-Prohibition era brewery. The long-dormant Hoster Brewing Company at 477 S. Front St. has been purchased with the intent to develop it into a boutique hotel, rooftop bar, events venue, and more.

The Ohio Development Services Agency awarded $5 million in historic preservation tax credits Wednesday to developer Dwight McCabe to rehab the old set of buildings in the Brewery District, reports WOSU.

Renderings for a planned redevelopment of 477 S. Front Street in the Brewery District.

According to the website of the project’s architecture firm Schooley Caldwell, plans for the Hoster Brewing building include a boutique hotel, a rooftop bar, restaurants and bar, events space, office space, and retail.

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“…our goal is to transform the site of the long dormant Hoster Brewing Company while keeping its history and architectural beauty on full display,” wrote Schooley Caldwell. “We hope for these magnificent buildings to serve as a vibrant gateway into the Brewery District from downtown Columbus and the west.”

The redevelopment is expected to cost $70 million.

Note: the program for this project has changed since the creation of this video. While design philosophy and overall goals for the site remain the same, the specific renderings and plans presented in this video no longer accurately reflect the current design, which has evolved considerably.

L. Hoster Brewing Company was founded in 1836 and expanded steadily through the early 1900s. By 1914, Hoster had combined with three other large Columbus breweries and together, they dominated the market. But, Prohibition took it’s toll in 1919, forcing Ohio to turn dry and, in turn, Hoster to shutter.

To learn more about the project and to see photos of what the Hoster Brewing building looks like today, visit schooleycaldwell.com.

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