NORTH RIDGEVILLE — If voters approve a $58.1 million bond issue Tuesday to build a new middle school, it could be the beginning of a sweeping change for the city and lead to a long-discussed project that would give the community its first-ever downtown feel.
“We have a real opportunity to improve not only the schools, but traffic conditions, and development at that corner,” Mayor David Gillock said as the city released a conceptual drawing of what the intersection of state Routes 83 (Avon Belden Road) and U.S. Route 20 (Center Ridge Road) could look like in the near future.
“We need to get this done,” Gillock said. “It’s time we joined the 21st century. There’s no downfall here.”
Gillock’s comments echo those of North Ridgeville Schools Superintendent James Powell, who recently said a number of businesses have expressed interest in buying the middle school site for possible development, although he declined to name them.
“This could change the whole landscape in the next three to four years,” Gillock said. “We’ll have this prime corner that can be developed.”
Done by an area development firm that Gillock declined to name, the conceptual drawing envisions a retail area similar in appearance to the French Creek commercial area at the corner of Detroit Road and Route 83 in Avon.
Gillock termed the drawing a “potential” look the area long considered the unofficial center of town could have if voters say yes to the bond issue.
Plans call for the current middle school built in 1923 to be torn down, along with a small office building and a BP gas station at the corner of routes 83 and 20.
The demolitions would be paid for from the bond issue, and the Ohio School Facilities Commission has appropriated $8.9 million for a new school housing students in grades 3 to 8 that will ease crowding at the current middle school and two elementary buildings.
The new school would be built on school district-owned land adjacent to North Ridgeville High School.
Tearing down the existing school would clear the way for development of the 13-acre school property that includes the Rangers’ football stadium located behind the middle school. The stadium would come down and be replaced elsewhere.
Valued at $2.3 million, the school and stadium property is sizable enough to hold a major retail shopping area and townhouse-style apartments as well, according to Gillock.
Once the existing middle school and commercial structures are torn down, the city would invite developers such as Jacobs, Visconsi and Jacobs Co. and Carnegie Management and Development Corp., to draw up and submit proposals.
“That way we control our own destiny instead of selling the land off piecemeal to one person who wants to put up a business and another who wants to build something else,” Gillock said. “It would make the middle school property very viable.”
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.