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Rossford expected to move forward with economic development plans

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The Rossford officials who have been clamoring for years about creating a master plan for economic development may soon get their wish.

City council heard an hour-long presentation last week from Dallas-based O’Brien Architects. Vice President Mick Granlund detailed examples of past mixed-use developments for clients such as Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and the Dallas Cowboys.

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Rossford Mayor Neil MacKinnon III. Rossford is getting closer to developing an economic development plan.

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An ordinance will be prepared for the April 23 meeting to enter into an agreement for services. The cost is estimated at just shy of $500,000, although 96 percent of it would be paid with tax-increment financing funds. The remaining portion will come from the general fund.

Mayor Neil MacKinnon has been at the forefront of development in Rossford for years. Mr. Granlund and his firm were referred to Mayor MacKinnon by a friend.

“The goal is for them to set us up for success and for us to be in a place where we not only attract, but retain talent,” Mayor MacKinnon said. “We want to draw talent and investment in and out of our marketplace. When it’s all said and done, they create value. In turn, that creates an investment.”

If the deal is approved, O’Brien would team up with Gateway Planning, also based in Dallas. Toledo-based Poggemeyer Design Group would also be involved in the project.

Mr. Granlund and Gateway Design founder Scott Polikov toured Rossford earlier this month. They envision a mix of retail, office, residential, and industrial spaces.

“There was one thing I saw in the mayor and that was a passion for his hometown,” Mr. Granlund said. “As we work with the city of Rossford, it will be our task to understand what creates value for the city, and the best way to prepare Rossford for the future.”

Councilman Robert Ruse routinely raises the issue of creating a master plan to better understand how to develop and assign zoning. He spoke highly of the plan at a council meeting last week.

City Administrator Mike Scott said this would be the first master plan crafted since the 1970s.

Rossford has changed considerably since then. NAI Harmon has invested about $150 million into the city over the past few years in the form of the Rossford Entertainment District planned near Hollywood Casino Toledo, and the newly minted Harmon Business Park near the Crossroads. The entertainment district is scheduled to open by 2021.

Founder Ed Harmon believes a master plan would serve Rossford well.

“Look at this project. Be objective,” Mr. Harmon said. “It could help our community. If you love this community the way I do, I’m putting my money in. I encourage you to do the same.”

The master plan would cover the entire town, but the Crossroads is an area of emphasis. The city has made attempts to heavily develop the area, but encountered roadblocks.

Construction began in 1999 on an outdoor amphitheater and adjacent hockey arena. Funding dried up, building stopped, and the half-built complex was eventually torn down in 2008.

In 2007, Bass Pro Shops opened in the area. The city expected more development to fill in around the store, only to see the real estate market collapse a year later.

Contact Jay Skebba at jskebba@theblade.com, 419-376-9414, or on Twitter @JaySkebba.

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