GREEN: A new proposal from a different prospective buyer to create a gourmet restaurant and winery at the city-owned Belden Lodge is now in the hands of the City Council.
Entrepreneur Ted Swaldo, founder and owner of Gervasi Vineyard and Italian Bistro in Stark County’s Plain Township, has entered into a $625,000 purchase agreement with the city for the nearly 8.4-acre lodge site surrounded by Southgate Park off Massillon and Mount Pleasant roads.
Another investment group presented similar plans last year and received a favorable recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission, but the project was abandoned in February because the investment group couldn’t fulfill its financial obligations.
Swaldo said he plans to turn the three-floor, 14,000-square-foot lodge into a gourmet restaurant; special events center; an Italian bistro for wine and alcohol sales; wine, beer and/or spirit manufacturing; and a general business office.
No exterior addition of the floor area is proposed at this time. All renovation work would be internal to the three-story structure.
At Wednesday night’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, members made a favorable recommendation to City Council to approve a special-use permit for the Swaldo plan.
The recommendation came a day after council gave first reading to the proposal, which was sent to council’s Environment and Parks Committee.
Swaldo is the entrepreneur who in 1999 built the ASC Industries facilities on International Parkway in Green. The company is the largest manufacturer of water pumps in the world.
After a brief retirement, Swaldo re-entered the business realm, creating Gervasi Vineyard by transforming a 55-acre farm into a winery, bistro, marketplace, villa suites and a large outdoor pavilion.
Plans for the Green site include construction of a 28-foot-wide driveway off Massillon Road and a bridge to cross a portion of the property’s wetlands.
Commission member Dave Plum said the new roadway location is going to make a significant improvement to the entire proposal.
“This will really help clear previous hurdles,” said Plum, a former Parks and Recreation Board member.
He also noted that the Belden site was not purchased with grant money.
Planning Director Wayne Wiethe said the new proposal is a better location for the roadway.
Swaldo said he has been a fan of Green for a long time, noting he still owns the property at the ASC site.
“I’m a very big fan of the city of Green,” he stated with a smile.
George W. Davis can be reached at email@example.com.