A new residential development could be coming to Delaware’s east side following Wednesday’s meeting of the city’s Planning Commission. During the meeting, the commission approved a rezoning amendment and a preliminary development plan from Homeport to construct a mixed-use development focused on affordable housing at 50 Channing St.
Following approval by the planning commission, the proposed development will now go before Delaware City Council for final approval.
Proposed is a 52-unit mixed-use development on the approximately 5.38-acre property that is currently the location of the Delaware County Building and Engineering Department. The developer is currently working to purchase the property to make way for the project as the county transitions its offices to a new location. If approved, the property will be divided into three sub-areas with each containing a different type of housing.
Sub-Area 1 would contain 24 apartments within the existing three-story brick building that fronts Channing Street. Just south of Sub-Area 1, the existing parking lot would give way to Sub-Area 2, which would include three buildings housing 20 two-story attached townhomes. Also included in Sub-Area 2 would be 44 parking spaces.
Sub-area 3, which currently serves as a storage garage running parallel to Vernon Avenue, would include eight single-family lots with two-story detached houses. Each home would have an attached garage, two sparking spaces, and total a minimum of 1,500 square feet.
Access to the site would include two curb cuts along Channing Street and one on Vernon Avenue, which runs along the northern edge of the property. Landscaping for the property would include screening both south and east of Sub-Area 2 to screen the existing homes in the area. Carrie Forman, a project engineer for the city, said a traffic study for the site would not need to be conducted, nor does she feel the development would bring a significant increase to traffic on the east side.
Planning and Community Development Director Dave Efland said he was pleased to see Roy Lowenstein included as part of the Homeport team due to Lowenstein’s track record of success with projects in the city.
“Roy has a history with the City of Delaware with a different company, but he did bring forward a tax-credit project (called Arthur Place) on Houk Road that successfully got the tax credit, was successfully developed, and has been a good addition to the community,” Efland said during the meeting.
Laura Comek, who is representing the developer on the project, said “Homeport is the go-to, most well-regarded non-profit housing developer in central Ohio. This is their first foray into Delaware, but we are in every corner and nook and cranny of central Ohio.”
Asked about the response from the existing residents of the area to the proposal, Comek said Homeport has met with neighbors of the proposed development to discuss their concerns. Among the concerns that have been voiced is the quality of the homes that would be constructed. Comek said the quality would be “unmatched,” meeting or exceeding both Ohio’s building code and the city’s design standards.
Planning Commission Chairman Stacy Simpson said he wondered what would happen to the property as the Delaware County occupants transitioned to their new location, and he called the proposed development from Homeport a “best-case scenario.”
While the development appears to be heading for approval by the city, that is just one of the obstacles Homeport must clear in order for the project to become a reality. Efland said Homeport would be required to apply for tax credits before the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, which he said would “help to underwrite the project to make it possible from a financial perspective.”
Efland pointed out the process to receive tax credits is “extremely competitive,” and there is a chance Homeport doesn’t receive the credits even if the project is ultimately approved by the city. If Homeport were unable to obtain the credits, Efland said the property would likely be purposed for residential homes similar to what is already in the area.
The first reading of the proposal is set to take place at the next council meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 7. Meetings are held virtually and can be accessed via the city’s Facebook page.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.