COLUMBIA CITY — The Columbia City Common Council is reviewing an ordinance that may help to fill the old Scott’s building, located on the corner of Connexion Way and Armstrong Drive.
The council is working to offer incentives to promote growth in that area to aid businesses that might consider the building.
“The building has been sitting vacant for five to six years now, and we know there is some very good potential for it,” said Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel.
The council approved an ordinance designating an economic development target area on first reading, moving it to second reading. If the ordinance is approved it could mean some economic changes are headed to the northwest corner of the city.
The ordinance came to the council after the Columbia City Economic Development Commission passed a resolution recommending the designation of a target area which includes the northwest corner of the city, extending from Armstrong Drive to Ind. 109.
Daniel said the benefits of passing the ordinance would allow the council the ability to provide tax abatements to businesses interested in purchasing the old Scott’s building or developing the farmland north of the long stretch behind Wal-Mart.
“This does nothing to any of the taxes of property owners in that area,” said Mayor Daniel. “It does nothing to harm any of the businesses that are already there. It’s just a potential incentive for future growth in that area.”
According to the Columbia City Community Development Director Jeff Walker, the proposed ordinance does not guarantee an automatic tax abatement, as businesses would still have to come before the council with that request.
City Councilman Bill Simpson said, “I think it’s important if we can provide an incentive to get that building back in use,” said Simpson. “That’s one of our largest retail buildings in the city, and it has been sitting for a long time. The property has just kind of degraded into an unofficial truck stop.”
City Councilman Dan Weigold added, “I think as the council it’s our responsibility to try to improve the quality of that area to attract other businesses.”
The council voted to approve the ordinance on second reading. Final approval of the ordinance will be decided at the council’s next regular meeting Nov. 27.