Springfield Township officials on Monday held a brainstorming session to discuss their desires for continued development along the commercial corridor of state Route 208.
Published Jan. 27, 2016, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201A Erie St., Grove City.
Supervisors Richard Dillaman, Judith Hassler and David Swartz attended the Springfield Township Planning Commission meeting, along with Deb Thompson of Strategy Solutions Inc., who is working with the supervisors on a land use marketing study for 208.
Business is booming for the township, with hotels, restaurants and retailers continuing to build along the stretch of 208 from the area of state Route 258 to the Grove City Airport. As part of an $11 million agreement with Grove City, Harrisville, and Liberty, Pine and Mercer townships, Springfield is working toward expanding its water and sewer capacity in hopes of attracting even more businesses.
Now is the time to think ahead to what businesses the township would like to work with, Thompson said.
She's been looking at economic data and available parcels, which she said could be ideal for light manufacturing, professional services, healthcare and transportation; some transportation companies have already expressed interest, she said.
The planning commission has land-use tools they could use to enforce certain types of developments in certain areas of the township, Thompson said.
The township has yet to reach that point - reaching out to specific businesses - but she used the Schwan's food company as an example. Perhaps they'd like to open an warehouse and distribution center on the east side of Interstate 79, where land is for sale, she said.
"What kind of organizations would you like to see?" Thompson asked.
Planning commission member Patty Wilson said she'd be interested in manufacturing of some kind, like a high-tech company, and Tim Dumbroski, commission chair, suggested an internet sales distribution center, like an Amazon warehouse.
Dillaman mentioned the property at 208 and 258 owned by Walmart, which claims plans are still on the table to build a Supercenter, a project that dates back to 2003. However, township leaders have been hesitant to assume the store will materialize.
"I don't even think they know," Swartz said of Walmart's plans.
Dillaman also noted that General Electric continues to expand in the area, adding that one of their subcontractors may be interested in Route 208.
Swartz would like to see a medical professional building, but not any more hotels or motels.
"We've got plenty of those," he said.
Grove City Premium Outlets was the township's main business for many years, said planning consultant Richard Grossman, with Dillaman later adding that town officials haven't really recruited new businesses since the mall opened about 15 years ago.
Springfield is now in a position to decide how they want to leave the community in terms of targeting certain companies, Dillaman said.
"That's the heart of this process," Thompson said.
The marketing study can go in any direction, but the township needs to assess business' needs for infrastructure.
Commission member Ron Donlan said he's interested in working with businesses that would help keep the township green, and a grocery store like Whole Foods, which Dumbroski said could work well in the Springfield Commons retail center being built on 208 at Veterans Road.
A multi-modal trail is in the works to connect businesses along 208, and a sporting goods store would be a good addition; there's a pond they could use for customers to test products like canoes, Donlan said.
"I think we should focus a lot on outdoor amenities," he said.
Gary Dovey, vice president of Penn-Northwest Development Corp., said Field and Stream has shown an interest in the township.
Grossman suggested an enclosed farm market that could be held on a different day than when Grove City holds its market. He also addressed Dillaman's comment about not recruiting new businesses over the years, saying the township has zoned reactively.
The township may want to consider reserving land east of 79 for a business park, and they'd have to determine whether they can afford to wait for that kind of development. Springfield needs new businesses to support water and sewer development, Grossman added.
Dovey reminded the group about the Living Treasures Safari Resort planned for 258 in Liberty Township, which could bring more tourist-related businesses to Springfield.
Township officials must keep in mind the need to pay for infrastructure, and strive to recruit businesses that will provide good paying jobs, Grossman said.
"I think you've given us some good food for thought," Thompson said, encouraging township officials to continue thinking about input for the marketing study.