GREEN The razing of more than 60 acres of trees on property known as Union Square is quite visible, as well as visually striking, to motorists traveling along Interstate 77 through the city of Green.
The story, however, is somewhat less dramatic according to Beth Borda, vice president of commercial development for DeHoff Development Company, owners of the property.
"We don’t really have anything to announce right now – though the ALDI is going in at the corner of Massillon Road and Town Park Center," Borda said. "As far as the rest of the ground, we are continuing to market it for commercial use, but we cleared the trees to farm the land."
Union Square Investments managing partner Bob DeHoff has indicated to the city that the 146 acres of the commercial area known as Union Square has been owned by Union Square Investments for approximately 17 years. In this time, Charleston Place Residential Subdivision has been constructed as well as the Akron General/Cleveland Clinic Health and Wellness facility, and the planned ALDI Grocery Store project, which has been approved by the city.
Back on the farm
The property owner recently began working with a Stark County-based farmer to clear the approximately 62 acres of the land for agricultural use. The farmer, whose name has not been released, worked through the Farm Services Administration and Natural Resource Conservation Services of the USDA for approval to place the 62 acres into agricultural use and has reportedly planted winter wheat on the site, with hopes for a spring 2018 harvest.
Green Planning Director Wayne Wiethe said that while this site is not as recognizable to residents as agricultural property as other areas of the city, zoning does allow for it as a conditional use. The arrangement also provides a small return on the land to the property owner, as the farmer leases the land from the property owner.
"It is a good deal for the property owner and the farmer – I don’t know the details of the lease, but it probably at least pays the property taxes on the land," Wiethe said.
He added though, that should a commercial project come forward, it is likely the farmer’s use of the property would end.
History and future of Union Square
In 2012, Diebold proposed relocating its corporate headquarters on the property, but withdrew those plans, stating financial concerns at that time. Meanwhile, the remaining 146 acres not being farmed has no proposed projects planned – from either the city or DeHoff.
"We may hear from (the state of Ohio) about someone looking for 20 acres or something for a project, or we may present what we have to someone looking for a site – we have had a couple like that lately – but that is how (the marketing of commercial property) works," Wiethe said. "But you will know about it."
Specifically, Wiethe said, infrastructure improvements, up to a long-range plan to extend Town Park Boulevard to Wise Road, would likely precede any commercial development at the property.