When the Woodville Mall opened in 1969, it was the first enclosed mall in Northwest Ohio.
After years of neglect and a foreclosure to the City of Northwood, the site is poised to have another first.
It will be the first “Age in Place” community in the area, as presented to the Wood County Commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting.
There are plans to change the 120 acres, formerly the home of a J.C. Penney, Elder-Beerman and Andersons, into a place to live and play.
Glenn Grisdale, with Reveille, said he has been working with the city to tear down the former mall and revitalize the area.
The vision is to develop the Enclave, with estimated public infrastructure costs of up to $8 million, he said.
“This development will be Northwest Ohio’s first aging in place community,” Grisdale said.
He said a young person could get an apartment in the Enclave, a job at First Solar and education at Owens Community College, then purchase a first home there and start a family. Later in life, he or she could downsize to a townhome and move into the assisted living facility on site.
“It’s the wave of the future,” Grisdale said of the plan, which will also be at the “right price point.”
The plan to pay for it is through Tax Increment Financing. TIF is an economic development mechanism available to local governments to finance public infrastructure improvements that support residential, commercial, industrial and mixed use development.
Also, all the new valuation that’s generated will be directed to pay down the debt, Grisdale said. The $10.2 million in valuation equals $312,000 in property taxes and will pay down debt in 30 years.
City officials could also pursue passing a short-term levy to help in the implementation of the plan. At 1.6 mills, Northwood has the lowest property tax millage of all communities in Wood County, according to the presentation documents.
Grisdale, along with Mayor Ed Schimmel and Administrator Bob Anderson, asked the commissioners for resolutions of support.
“We thought it was important to get in front of you to talk about all we’re doing in Northwood,” Grisdale said. “The Woodville Mall is finally down and people don’t understand how important it was to the community.”
When the mall closed in 2012, after an injunction brought by Northwood and the Wood County Health Department, the city obtained it in foreclosure for $200,000. A standalone Andersons store was closed in 2013.
The city recently held three public community visioning sessions. Participants had instant vote clickers to choose options for the site, including a golf course, plant, mixed use, public use and park.
The sessions showed that the respondents would like a mix of planned residential, commercial and office uses there (69 percent) and would like a portion of the site for public purposes (76 percent). The majority (65 percent) also said they were OK with this site being developed in a manner best defined by the market.
It was also noted that Northwood’s population is aging. The median age in 2010 was 38 years old and today’s median age is estimated at 44 years old. The population is more mature, but very active, Grisdale said.
According to the administrators’ presentation, the city has made investments over the past several years to revive the community. They have updated zoning that provides flexibility and have made use of state and federal programs. Those include Ohio Development Services Agency and Jobs Ohio.
Two projects remain:
• Creating new property valuation on the former Woodville Mall footprint
• Renewing the Woodville Road Corridor (safety, aesthetics, cub appeal)
The Enclave would include a mixed-use facility, a senior living facility, apartments, a bank and a multi-tenant shopping plaza.
Grisdale had examples of all the land use types. The mixed-use facility was compared to the one on East Wooster Street in Bowling Green that has an ice cream store, phone store and coffee business.
“We’ve got to remember that this is all proposed, it’s all subject to change,” Anderson said. “But at least it’s a starting point.”
He said council has been involved in the process and financial planning.
“If we do this, and we don’t have the real estate to pay the financing, the city’s going to be on the hook for it,” Anderson said. “We have our eyes wide open.”
For the time frame, the city would do the infrastructure first, Grisdale said.
"That will tell the development community that we're serious," he said.
The area will also include a roundabout at Lemoyne and Woodville roads, which could be developed in conjunction with the school district.
“This would be a good amenity when you’re driving into the community. It would let people know that something’s happening,” Grisdale said of the roundabout.
The Enclave would also have a Main Street, which could host a farmers market.
“They don’t really have a downtown,” Grisdale said of the city. “Northwood hasn’t had a neighborhood in 10 years.”
There are also plans for beautification projects on the main entrances into the city: Interstate 75 and Wales Road and Interstate 280 and Woodville Road.