The second reading of an ordinance to approve a preliminary development plan for a mixed-use development at 50 Channing St. was held during Monday’s meeting of Delaware City Council. If approved, the current Delaware County Building and Engineering property would be repurposed to provide “affordable” housing to the community, according to documents for the ordinance.
Proposed by Homeport is a 52-unit mixed-use development on the approximately 5.38-acre property on Channing Street. 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.
“The plan incorporates a mixed-income concept designed to meet diverse housing needs in the community for seniors and families,” a document for the proposal states. “The first two components would utilize the housing tax credit available through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) to develop affordable rental housing. This program seeks to provide the community with energy-efficient, market-rate quality housing at a lower rent than would otherwise be possible.”
According to the estimated rent ranges in the document, rent costs for the development could be as low as $350 for a one-bedroom unit or upwards of $1,135 for three bedrooms.
“We are familiar as a city with working with Roy Lowenstein who’s now with this company,” Planning and Community Development Director Dave Efland said during the meeting. “He was with a different company when he brought forward, many years ago now, the development of the Arthur Place project out on Houk Road, which I think has been very successful. Actually, my understanding is they have a waiting list … We’ve enjoyed working forward with the Homeport team, and yes, they do possess a wealth of experience — decades and decades of experience — in this space. I think one of the critical elements is they will be long-term managers…”
Councilman Drew Farrell, who represents the residents living on Channing Street, said, “I’ve heard a lot of points in favor (of the development), especially the ones about affordable housing. I know when I was first living in Delaware, this would have been awesome to have because $700 for rent is pretty much unheard of anymore but still pretty pricey. People have also mentioned it’s nice seeing the engineer’s office being reused versus being torn down. Also, the idea that it would be managed by a group that has experience doing these types of projects long-term as opposed to being built and then left.”
However, Farrell said he has also heard from residents in the area of the proposed development about concerns regarding the project. Specifically, Farrell said he has heard concerns about added traffic, crime, and the character of the neighborhood.
Delaware resident Nancy Russell, who lives just down the street from the engineer’s office on Channing Street, used the public speaking portion to ask both council and the Homeport team if the development would represent Section 8 housing. In response to the question, Laura Comek, the attorney representing Homeport, said Section 8 vouchers can be accepted anywhere, although she added that’s “a bit of a misnomer about the nature of these projects.”
“It’s not the old concept of affordable housing or housing projects,” Comek said. “These are equity-funded, so tax credits. That’s the bulk of how we get the funding to build them. And then after we have ranges of income from folks, so it’s not a traditional Section 8 voucher program.”
Russell said the idea of having Section 8 housing just down the street has been a big concern for many of the residents already living on Channing Street, although she did add that “we all like the development.”
Prior to the proposal coming before council, the Delaware Planning Commission unanimously approved Homeport’s plans last month. The ordinance will be read for a third time at the next council meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 25, at which time council will likely render a decision on the development.
Meetings are virtual and live-streamed on the city’s Facebook page. Anyone wishing to speak during the meeting should contact Elaine McCloskey, city council clerk, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.