Painesville’s quaint riverside downtown district is seeing a surge in economic development that is bringing new life back to several aging buildings. Many projects are underway or close to completion.
According to Doug Lewis, Painesville city manager, public/private partnerships are fueling much of the growth. He says the city is laying the groundwork to attract developers and help them move through the process more smoothly. This has included creating concept plans for available properties, passing more business-friendly legislation, making infrastructure improvements and establishing an economic development fund. They also have used tax increment financing, commonly known as TIFs, in several strategic districts.
“Working together benefits everyone,” he says. “My big push is putting the city in a position where we can work with developers and existing business owners who are looking to invest so that everyone is successful.
“In the 13 years I have been with the city, I have not seen as much interest in development as we have seen recently,” he adds. “If all of these projects come forward, it will represent a $60 million investment in the city.”
A former Chase Bank property prominently located in the city’s historic downtown district is one of the biggest examples. The vacant five-story building is soon to become student dormitories for Lake Erie College. Construction is slated to begin this summer.
Lewis says collaboration with the college, the city and the developer, Renew Partners LLC, has been a formula for success. While city council revised zoning codes to allow dormitory use within the city’s central business district, the team began moving forward on the property.
The project will be funded through a $14.5 million investment from the developer, along with several outside grants, including an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant of $650,000 for streetscape improvements around the building.
“Once you get one project completed, you get a domino effect,” adds Lewis.
A former drug store building is another vacant facility that has been given a new purpose as the Painesville Medical Center. The new $5.5 million Signature Health facility, opening this spring, will house primary care, women’s health, dental care and a pharmacy, as well as behavioral health services.
Lewis cites a wide variety of other projects in the works ranging from an expansion at one of the city’s largest employers, Avery Dennison, to a new facility for the nonprofit organization, HOLA Ohio.
Residential growth is on the rise, as well. Encore Estates, a 168-house development by builder Ryan Homes is selling fast, and a 119-apartment facility, Clover Senior Independent Living, will be opening its doors soon.
Lewis’ message to developers is clear.
“We are willing to work with you,” he says. “We are looking at how they do business and determining what is beneficial to them as well as the city. We have done some amazing things — we are changing the way people view the city of Painesville.”