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City aiming to push forward development projects

December 7, 2018

Columbus residents in the near future should see the backbones of new housing developments taking shape, which ultimately should contribute to alleviating some of the affordable housing shortfall currently affecting the city.

During this week’s Columbus City Council meeting, the governing body approved the redevelopment plan for the Southeast Redevelopment Area, with SERC LLC serving as the project applicant. The planning commission previously recommended approval, according to Staff Report information.

“This is another TIF (tax-increment financing) project kind of down by Centennial (Elementary) School on the south side,” City Administrator Tara Vasicek said.

Mike Bacon, a Gothenburg-based attorney representing SERC, said that the project is expected to bring workforce housing in the form of 16 duplex townhome units and one single family unit.

“The intent is to make these homes affordable for the working families in the city of Columbus,” Bacon said.

Workforce housing follows a strict set of parameters, Vasicek said. Rental properties must be valued at under $250,000 to build each unit, and if it’s owner-occupied, it must be under a sale price of $275,000 per unit. The project is in its infancy and is expected to be completed in three phases.

“It will take a number of years to fill out, we think, so this will be an annual TIF (amount used) but will not require additional hearings,” Bacon added, referring to the Community Development Agency being able to approve the use of tax-increment financing which was completed Monday.

Tax increment financing is a public financing method that is used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects.

The project, Vasicek said, is a recipient of the city’s rural housing workforce grant, which is allocating $850,000 to three community housing projects in an effort to build affordable housing for community members in an effort to retain employees and promote overall business growth.

Another effort in the works is the Frontier Development Project, occurring in the Armory Neighborhood area. Action is expected to take place during the Council’s Dec. 17 meeting regarding an amendment to the project’s redevelopment plan. The Planning Commission is hosting a public hearing and is expected to make a recommendation to the Council at 7 p.m. Monday.

“Granville (Custom Homes) purchased about 2.6 acres over by the new Frontier Park and they are going to be developing it into 10 single-family workforce houses,” Vasicek said.

Construction, Vasicek said, will ramp up in spring 2019, noting that she believes some dirt work has been completed but that utility work won’t take place until after this winter.

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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