Entertainment district push to help businesses raises Centerville traffic, history concerns

CENTERVILLE — The push for a 113-acre entertainment district has raised questions about traffic congestion and maintaining Centerville’s historic town center, issues city officials say will be addressed.

An entertainment district application by Centerville businessman Patrick Beckel calls for more liquor permits to draw business and people to the area that mirrors the city’s Architectural Preservation District, records show.

Beckel said his proposal will enhance the city’s estimated $11.4 million Uptown plan, for which the focal point of construction is the Ohio 48 (Main Street)/Franklin Street intersection, among the busiest vehicle traffic areas along the state route in the city.

The application is set for a public hearing July 12 and a city council vote by Aug. 14. Centerville resident Ron Jonas asked city officials last week what changes are in store for the Architectural Preservation District and traffic at that intersection if the entertainment district is approved.

The intersection is the third busiest crossroads on the north/south state route in Centerville. It has a daily average of 28,570 vehicles a day, Ohio Department of Transportation records show.

Infrastructure work on both roads near the intersection in recent months has caused traffic delays. Jonas said westbound motorists from East Franklin Street are, “getting the short end of the light. Sometimes you can get out on Franklin Street and sometimes you can’t.”

Centerville Mayor Brooks Compton said one key in moving forward with plans for the area is to address both concerns.

The city must “recognize the importance of historical buildings that are in the AP District and what importance they place to our community.

“By making them more recognizable or historic in nature,” people “who come to our community will know that we put importance upon the historical significance of those buildings,” he said.

Compton said traffic is “being looked at very closely by the consultants that we working with. All aspects of that intersection … are going to be looked at.”

A city contractor on the Uptown plan — MKSK of Columbus — “has had a lot of experience working in historical preservation areas like our … district,” City Manager Wayne Davis said.

“And one of the things we want to do is to make sure that any new design that goes in there complements the historic features,” of the area, Davis added.

The city has outlined more than $50 million in public and private investments to the area, one state requirement for entertainment district approval.

The Uptown plan is part of that total. It calls for multi-year, phased upgrades focused on three quadrants of the Main/Franklin streets intersection.

They are the northeast, northwest and southwest corners. Among the plan’s goals: improve walkability/traffic reduction; parking; events; business development; branding; and greenspace, records show.

The city wants to bid the estimated $2.5 million first phase by the end of the year, with construction starting next spring, Centerville Development Director Michael Norton-Smith has said.

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