Hinckley couple plans to reinvigorate town center

by Melissa Martin

April 4 township trustees meeting

Two longtime Hinckley residents announced plans to revitalize Hinckley’s town center to include restaurants, small retail shops and community green space with the intention of making the space more community-centric for residents and visitors.

Bryan Penvose, an attorney representing the couple, informed trustees that 29-year Hinckley residents Shawn and Caryn Gaffney purchased approximately 9 acres in Hinckley’s downtown historic section, including the former gun and taxidermy shop, as well as surrounding businesses and land. The Gaffneys’ intention is to create “a fresh, new atmosphere” where residents can perform everyday tasks as well as gather and interact in an inviting, nature-like setting.

While plans for the property, located on the east side of Ridge Road near the Center Road intersection, have yet to be finalized, Penvose said the couple wanted to share their vision for the site as a catalyst for further conversation.

“The idea is to establish a common vision for downtown Hinckley early on in this process so that this truly becomes a community project,” Penvose said.

Architect David Krebs, president and design director for AODK Architecture, assured Hinckley residents that the vision for the site is not to compete with businesses already there. He said the goal is to create something special that complements them.

“Let me be clear. Our vision does not include any dollar-type stores or big-box retailers,” Krebs said. “There also will be no senior living facilities or conservation developments.”

What residents can envision, Krebs said, is a destination where people can go to eat, shop, attend community festivals and concerts and connect with nature.

“We want this to be a memorable place where people can come to spend an afternoon or evening to socialize and interact,” Krebs said.

Walking trails and possibly a community amphitheater are among the features being considered. Other elements might include restaurants, cafes, delicatessens, ice cream shops, bakeries, a winery, second-story office space or apartments and specialty retailers, Krebs said.

Yet to be determined, according to Krebs, is whether existing buildings are in need of renovations or whether the site needs to be modified to make way for the additions.

In either case, Krebs said the plan is not to create large parking lots but to share parking space with businesses that are already there.

“We are trying our best to consciously not overbuild the site,” he said.

Trustees said they were impressed by the preliminary vision for the site.

“I’d like to thank the Gaffneys for bringing a very community-minded project to us,” said Trustee Melissa Augustine. “The synergy reflects Hinckley in that we have a lot of green space in the concept [plan] as well as a lot of the potential uses our residents are looking for in the town center.”

Trustee Monique Ascherl agreed.

“This is a unique concept for Hinckley,” she said. “It’s definitely something to be excited for the possibilities.”

Bethany Dentler, executive director for the Medina County Economic Development Corporation, encouraged trustees to consider creating a tax increment finance district in anticipation of the project.

Dentler said a TIF would allow the township to extend county water lines to the town center without placing the financial burden on township residents.

“This will help pay for the public infrastructure by reinvesting the new property taxes it generates,” she said, noting that in essence, the developer of the project would incur all expenses associated with infrastructure and be reimbursed through the TIF.

In other business

Trustees voted to rescind the motion it passed June 7 to oppose the establishment of a community reinvestment area in conjunction with the proposed Discount Drug Mart retail store slated for construction at the intersection of Center Road and W. 130th Street.

Following the motion, trustees voted 2-0 in favor of supporting the CRA. Ascherl abstained from the vote, citing that she has professional ties to Discount Drug Mart.

Trustees also voted 2-1 to remove the Trustee Corner column from The Hinckley Record, following a lengthy discussion in March in which trustees said anything written for publication would have to be approved by the board.

Ascherl cast the lone vote to maintain the column. ∞