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Council paves way for business incubator


City planner Christina Berry

City planner Christina Berry



Nathan Gregory



The city of Columbus has agreed to apply for a public works grant through the Economic Development Administration and approve a partnership structure subject to negotiation with a developer that would fund renovation of a property at Yorkville Park Square and turn it into a business incubator. 


The $1.4 million grant would be a 50-50 match, with half provided by EDA and the other by the developer the city partners with to rehabilitate the property for use as rental spaces for potential businesses.  


City planner Christina Berry said as part of the deal, the developer would purchase the property, which is valued at about $200,000 before donating it to the city. If the city is accepted for the grant, the developer would contribute the 50 percent match. The city would pay the developer a five-percent fee for developing the property, providing an opportunity to recoup some of the property purchase costs. After 20 years, the city would give the property back to the developer. 


Berry said the building is 13,000 square feet and could be subdivided into forty units. 


"You've got a lot of business owners that come through our planning commission and other boards seeking different portable buildings and other buildings and we are supporting those, but this also gives them an opportunity to really grow their businesses," Berry said.  


She said the incubator would give the city a chance to make about $40,000 a year from the property. Operating revenue for the structure would be approximately $130,000, she figured, but with monthly rent on each of the structure's forty units would be $400 a month, or $192,000 a year. 


The city has also approved a recently established brownfield resident advisory committee consisting of 11 members, including: local developer Mark Castleberry; Realtor Hubert Williams, banker Antwann Richardson, Pastor Darren Leach, banker Zach Thomas, city engineer Kevin Stafford, city attorney Jeff Turnage, councilmen Joseph Mickens and Charlie Box, Columbus Air Force Base representative Quenisha Hobb and recent councilman candidate Maurice Webber.


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.



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