Friday, August 31, 2012

Walt's Pizza Expands in Marion

Marion's hometown pizza shrine Walt's Pizza is adding another topping to its eatery with a new delivery and carry-out center on the south side of their existing building.

Since 1977 owner Walter Nieds has sold more than 2 million pizzas from his store on South Court Street. The new addition will free up space in the kitchen and replace the somewhat cramped carry-out entrance in the front of the building.

Nieds applied for the building permit on Aug. 7 and construction began shortly thereafter.

The move is part of a larger trend of new eateries opening and older establishments expanding or renovating in town. The new ones being Logan's Roadhouse and Panera Break and those renovating over the last few years including McDonalds (new replacement building on Court, remodeled building at I-57) and Taco Bell.

And there's both additional restaurants looking at Marion as well as more remodeling/replacement of old buildings by existing ones.

Old West End Sees New Growth

Nieds' project at his location is also part of a developing trend of new investment along Court Street that's seen more than a million dollars of new construction underway or planned within about a five-block stretch of the highway, which besides the carryout facility includes a new Family Dollar store at the site of the old demolished Hardee's building, and a new office building for Clarida & Ziegler Engineering on North Court.

Around the corner on West Main Street the city continues planning work for a new multi-million dollar recreation and aquatics center at the old hospital site. The area is mostly all part of the recent Hub Tax Incrementing Financing District established by the city.

While most of the attention in Marion is directed to the area by the interstate traffic counts there in the heart of the city are 13,400 vehicles for Main Street west of Court (but that's 2006 figures), and 11,000 vehicles on the first couple of blocks of South Court and 12,500 vehicles on North Court, both as of 2011.

The creek that runs around and under the intersection of Court and Main was once named West End Creek as that was the western limits of development in Marion in the mid to late 19th Century.

Construction Picks Up

The $180,000 restaurant addition is part of nearly $1.8 million in projects permitted by the city this month. Other major projects include the $500,000 building for a new Family Dollar store at the corner of West Main and Court Streets, and an $850,000 addition to be built onto Heartland Christian Church at 900 E. Boyton St.

Construction over the summer started out slow in Marion with just three building permits in June, but has been picking up. If last year's $3.9 million expansion of Heartland Medical Center is taken out of consideration, then totals for this May through August are above last year's.

May saw $1,286,000 in projects this year compared with $800,000 last year. June saw $983,000 in projects compared with just $268,550 last year. July was down with only $1,148,500 this year compared to $4,514,000 last year, but that includes the 2011 hospital project, and August totals as of yesterday were $1,795,000 compared with $1,223,500 last year.

In other business Monday the city council decided it was time to rename Circuit City Road in the Robert L. Butler Industrial Park now that the bankrupt company's former warehouse has sold to new owners. Presumably the road is deservingly named for Glenn Clarida, the city's long-time engineer and only surviving member of the city's mid 20th Century-era planning commission other than the mayor himself who was appointed to the commission before being elected mayor in 1963.

If not, then it's named for the mayor's father-in-law, J. H. Clarida, who served as the city's mayor during the riotous Prohibition Era of the 1920s. I'm going with the former rather than the latter.

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