City officials are exploring creation of a community entertainment district around Rose Music Center at The Heights, giving the undeveloped Huber Heights land potential for new liquor establishments.
The Heights developers are lining up tenants and preparing to ask the city for several zoning changes before the end of the year, City Manager Rob Schommer said. Creation of the district — a state designation from the Ohio Department of Commerce that allows a city additional liquor licenses in a given location — is “very instrumental” for the developer to attract tenants, he said.
“Part of the meat is, we have acreage, and say two restaurants came to town like T.J. Chumps and wanted to build right there, we would have liquor license issues and concerns,” Schommer said.
Right now, only one D5 liquor license — essentially, a license allowing a bar to operate until 2:30 a.m. — remains available in the city, as 19 of 20 are already issued. Schommer said a community entertainment district around Rose would afford up to an additional 15 liquor licenses in that area.
Council voiced openness to Schommer’s proposal, and Mayor Tom McMasters said he envisions the community entertainment district as a place for residents to have “a nice evening.”
Schommer said the city is still determining how to move the process forward through the legislative process.
Some community entertainment districts exist already in the area. The Interstate 75/Ohio 63 interchange has one, and Schommer said The Greene, Easton and Austin Landing also have the designation.
The city has long sought development of the area near Ohio 201 and Interstate 70, particularly surrounding Rose Music Center, which was built with the intention of being a catalyst for economic growth in the city.
Youngstown-area development group Cafaro Investment Trust LLC has worked with another company, 201 Corridor Management LLC, in developing plans for the 67 acres of land west of Brandt Pike, between Shull Road and Executive Boulevard. Cafaro is expected to bring plans to the zoning committee by the end of the year, Schommer said.
Development at The Heights is key, city leaders said in April, to kicking in tax increment financing dollars to cover the cost of Rose Music Center, which opened in 2015 with a price tag of about $19.3 million.