STOW — Despite a lack of response from developers, the city’s new mayor says he is undeterred in his vision to create a downtown Stow.
“I’m still very much pledged to make downtown a reality,” said John Pribonic, who assumed the office Nov. 30.
Since the city’s 2006 comprehensive plan, officials have envisioned a walkable retail development at the City Center complex and adjacent undeveloped property. In late September, lawmakers approved making a request for proposals aimed at attracting developers to submit their ideas for creating a downtown Stow. The deadline for submissions was Nov. 21.
“We received no formal RFPs,” Nick Wren, the mayor’s chief of staff and the city’s service director, said. “However, since the deadline has passed, we have had discussions with several developers who have expressed interest. We will continue to engage in those discussions to see if a project is feasible.”
“I am not discouraged,” Pribonic said. “On the contrary, the city is still involved in discussion with several developers about the project. The outcome of those conversations will define our next steps. I am determined to move forward with the development of the City Center property with or without a partnership from private development in place.”
In the wake of the unproductive request for bid process Pribonic said he intends to speak with potential developers to ask, “Why didn’t you bid?”; “What would you have liked to see included?”; and “Where can we go from here?”
Pribonic said the development of a downtown might not include any type of retail, but will include a place where people can meet and community events can be staged.
“Stow, right now, has an image issue of where a downtown is," the mayor said. "If I told you, ‘I’ll meet you downtown,’ you’d go, ‘Where is downtown?’ We have an image problem. What I’m looking at is to put a landmark piece on the map of Stow saying that we have a downtown area.”
The Stow-Munroe Falls Community Foundation has been eager to partner with the city on exploring the potential development of the Stow city campus from a recreational gathering standpoint.
Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, firstname.lastname@example.org or @EllinWalsh_RPC.