When Eric Meyer settled into his office as Reynoldsburg’s new development director in December, a long list of priority projects awaited him.
“The great thing about Reynoldsburg is that there is so much going on,” he said. “Not only am I steering development … and working with the community to steer it in the right way, there also are many more places here to go.”
Meyer’s predecessor, Andrew Bowsher, was responsible for the projects list in Meyer’s hands. Bowsher left after nearly three years in Reynoldsburg to become the city manager of Sidney in northwest Ohio.
Underway is the Gateway Alliance project at the corner of Brice Road and East Main Street, where crews began demolishing the Kmart building in August to construct a $200 million walkable mixed-use development with four-story buildings, ground-floor retail, a boutique hotel, a conference center, medical offices, a state-of-the-art library and housing.
The site will be anchored by the national headquarters of the Christian and Missionary Alliance family of churches.
Construction also is set to begin later this year in the Olde Reynoldsburg area, where the city owns three properties, including the former Happy Dragon restaurant and PNC Bank sites near East Main Street and Davidson Drive.
The vision is to create a gateway with restaurants, shopping and parking.
Not only that, work also begins this year on a $21 million Columbus Metropolitan Library branch in the 1400 block of Brice Road.
Finally, Reynoldsburg is in the middle of a housing boom, with a range of developments.
“Central Ohio is seeing an explosion of growth, and the biggest challenge is making sure we grow smartly,” Meyer said. “You have to maintain different options of living … and improve our infrastructure and parks.”
Meyer has seen growth at the highest level while managing the financing, development and construction of multimillion-dollar affordable and workforce housing in Milwaukee, Chicago and Columbus for both national and local developers. He also worked at the Columbus Downtown Development Corp. and Capital South.
He was hired in Reynoldsburg at a base annual salary of $95,000.
Mayor Joe Begeny selected Meyer from among four finalists. He previously was one of two economic development administrators in Dublin.
While there, he was responsible for managing and growing business relationships in the Shier Rings Techflex and Metro Office Business districts. He had served in that role since September 2020.
Begeny said he was impressed with Meyer’s ability to “maintain great relationships with existing businesses” in Dublin.
Meyer described development as “kind of like a funnel” in trying to get many projects going and “refilling the pipeline.”
“The intent is to take an idea and vet it and get to ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as quickly as you can,” he said. “Moving ‘quickly’ may be the wrong word, but if something makes sense, we’re going to move forward. The mayor and City Council are very open to ideas.”
Meyer also recognizes that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has reshaped development opportunities.
“It’s a crazy world with COVID, and office uses are going by the wayside,” he said. “You’re seeing a drastic change in what businesses need and want. What that means is we should be talking to as many people as we can.”
Meyer has several “tools” in his economic development “box,” with master’s degrees in public administration, science and education from Ohio State University.
He and his wife, Megan, who is the deputy director of public affairs for the city of Whitehall, reside in German Village. The couple welcomed a son, Theodore, in October.
Meyer grew up in Washington Township and graduated from Hilliard Davidson High School.
“When you leave and come back, you realize the things you miss about your community,” he said. “But it’s really great to see Columbus, central Ohio and Reynoldsburg getting on the map from outside of Ohio.”