21-31 W. Church St. 20-22 N. Fourth St.

            The 6-19-13 Newark Advocate ran two front page articles dealing with matters that this blog has been pursuing repeatedly. The headline article is, Future of Newark: Downtown Buildings Await Interested Buyers by Kent Mallett. It covers the two centrally located buildings at 21-31 W. Church St. and the adjacent one at 20-22 N. Fourth St. The article covers the deterioration of both of these structures, and the hand wringing by the city with regards to their “future”. Owners of the structures tell a different story with differences primarily on the viability of the Church Street property. Both have been vacant; Church Street for the past year, Fourth Street for over two years. The Church Street property is subsumed/attached to the historic Newark Arcade as well as being architecturally significant from the Church Street side, Fourth Street immediately frames the Municipal Building. The Sunday 6-16-13 Advocate ran an article, Downtown Bridge Project Pits Cost vs. Appearance, also by Kent Mallet. The Mt. Vernon Road bridge over route 16 is to be the “gateway” for entry into Newark’s downtown. One “New Albany” style version even insures that commuters know there is a downtown thru “Downtown Newark” signage prominently displayed on the bridge itself! One article comment was that it would be a bridge to nowhere as there is no major downtown development/renovation (still the case as of this writing). The 6-19-13 “Future of Newark” article underscores this. Two-way North Fourth Street is to continue as such over the bridge, thereby reinforcing the essential route 13 north/south corridor. Church Street has always been and will continue as a main artery to the courthouse square roundabout, law offices, banks, churches and Midland. These two structures sit prominently on what the projected bridge will herald. The article also failed to make inquiry, nor get a response from both the Grow Licking County CIC and the Newark Development Partners CIC with regards their efforts to obtain “job creators” for these sites, the progress being made with this imperative, and their hopes for a successful outcome. Located on such heavily traveled access roads and so visually significant, the importance of these locations cannot be understated. As mentioned extensively in previous posts of this blog, the CIC’s are public/private partnerships with the public investing 60% of the costs (eventually most if not all). The normal business model is to have the interests of the individual partners of an enterprise always maintaining the top priority. How has the public benefited from these development consultants we’ve partnered with?  “Dan Horn writing for the Cincinnati Enquirer (5-2-13) reports that his research reveals that 9 times as many jobs were created from pre-existing businesses in Ohio rather than new ones (start-ups or ones lured from outside Ohio) through  JobsOhio.” (5-6-13 blog posting). Here is an urgent opportunity for the two CIC’s to validate their investment value. Do we get to know? Do we have a right to ask or look?

 

            The other story was Hanover Lil’ Bear Closes Down by Jacob Kanclerz. This is a sad addendum to the research done re: food supply within Newark City limits within previous blog posts. As a commenter to the article mentioned, there is now nothing between Frazeysburg and Newark/Heath. Within Newark itself, Save A Lot is closest on East Main, Lil’ Bear downtown, and Aldi’s, Walmart and Kroger on the north side. The food dessert grows but the unseen kudzu proliferating is the lack of choice highlighted by this blog’s findings. Kroger- no. 1 food retailer in the world, Walmart no. 2, and Aldi’s (offering primarily store brand) leaves area food purchasers with whatever mega deals have been struck between these uber retailers and their exclusive contract suppliers. These are inside partnerships perfectly in tune with the corporate vertical integration model – making the partners and subsidiaries the number one priority. This is a model that the state and locally funded CIC’s ought to be held accountable for, with the public at the top.

 

            Getting upscale developers for 21-31 Church St. and 20-22 N. Fourth St. should be a priority, an imperative, for Grow Licking County and Newark Development Partners. We test our school system to determine the efficacy of the public’s tax dollar investment. As another such public investment, the CIC’s should also be required to pass such a test.

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