A rendering of the new Gateway project in front of the Zanesville-Muskingum County Welcome Center.

Downtown entrance could grow to be new leisure district

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ZANESVILLE — A joint Gateway challenge between the Metropolis of Zanesville and the Muskingum County Conference Services Authority may rework a significant entrance to downtown Zanesville.

The world across the Zanesville-Muskingum County Welcome Heart and Secrest Auditorium may grow to be a brand new leisure district, with enhancements made to the auditorium and a brand new open-air market and restaurant on the grounds of the Welcome Heart.

Every entity would develop a portion of the challenge, with the CFA’s efforts centered on the world across the Welcome Heart, and town’s portion centered on Secrest Auditorium. 

“We’re taking a look at doing a challenge in our footprint across the Welcome Heart,” stated Mike Bennett, a member of the Muskingum County Conference Services Authority Board of Administrators. With different tasks underway downtown, now’s the correct time to start out taking a look at methods to develop their properties, together with the previous Ohio Energy storage on Fourth Road, he stated.

The challenge would come with renovations to the storage, upgrading issues like {the electrical} system to make the constructing extra engaging to potential tenants. The board can also be taking a look at a protracted pavilion within the car parking zone of the Welcome Heart, which would supply a lined house for distributors or demonstrations throughout varied occasions. Landscaping would make “a nicer, extra aesthetically pleasing and useful gateway into the center of downtown,” Bennett stated.

The pavilion challenge would result in the elimination of the part of Elberon Avenue that connects Fifth and Fourth streets. A sidewalk would change the highway, the elimination of which might permit for extra room across the pavilion space.

The Secrest Auditorium car parking zone, already a busy place this summer season with varied occasions together with the Summer time Live performance Sequence, would get a makeover by town, with landscaping work and different enhancements. The work can be paid for by $50,000 allotted by the Ohio price range.

In an effort to make Secrest itself a greater venue, Zanesville Mayor Don Mason want to see a brand new pre-event venue added to the southern aspect of the constructing, permitting for a a lot bigger foyer and entrance approach.

“We’re nonetheless planning however decided to maneuver ahead with the renovations that can permit for a greater expertise,” he stated. The enhancements may also make the constructing extra ADA accessible, and simpler to entry to older residents and people with well being wants. 

“It’s a nice, historic constructing which must be refreshed in order that it may cowl the span of actions that artist and entertainers want to maintain there,” he stated.

The previous Ohio Energy storage has three sections, two of about 1,800 sq. ft, and a bigger part in the course of about 4,000 sq. ft. The CFA acquired it within the late Nineties, Bennett stated. “We’re taking a look at how we are able to develop that property in a approach that will profit downtown Zanesville and convey individuals off the interstate and into town’s central enterprise district.

A view looking toward a proposed restaurant in the former Ohio Power garage on Fourth Street. Secrest Auditorium is on the right.

“We reached out to a variety of native restaurant operators,” Bennett stated. In consequence, the board is reviewing a proposal and has began negotiations. “Hopefully we may have a tenant within the subsequent a number of months.”

A brand new restaurant could be the main target of the leisure district, and assist construct momentum for the remainder of downtown, Mason stated. “Thousands and thousands of {dollars} go away our city yearly” as residents exit to dinner in surrounding areas like Newark, Cambridge or Coshocton, Mason stated. “We will construct this space up, and make Zanesville extra vigorous once more, extra entertaining once more.” Mason stated along with the doable tenant within the former AEP storage, one other restaurant downtown is anticipated to introduced quickly, he stated.

Bennett stated he anticipates the renovations to start within the first quarter of subsequent yr, and any tenant enhancements accomplished by the top of 2023, with a brand new enterprise opening in early 2024. The pavilion challenge could be finished throughout the identical time-frame, he stated.

Though nonetheless within the design section, early estimates for the full value of the CFA’s portion of the challenge are about $3.5 million, Bennett stated. That features the constructing renovations, pavilion building and the elimination of Elberon Avenue.

With mattress tax beginning to enhance following COVID-19, and frugal operations over time, “We’re in a reasonably robust monetary place,” he stated. “Whether or not we finance the remainder with financial savings or financing, I really feel assured we will deal with the general challenge, particularly since we bought two very beneficiant grants from two native foundations and the state involvement.” 

The CFA acquired a $500,000 grant from the Straker Basis, and a $250,000 grant from the Rogge Basis. 

“We’re excited,” Bennett stated. “I feel this suits in nicely with the general momentum downtown.”



Social media: @crookphoto


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