Highland West Civic Association

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Wheatland Crossing -New Development on Wheatland Ave

Tonight there was a meeting of the Greater Hilltop Area Commission Zoning Committee at the Hilltop Library about a new development for the large plot of city land available on N Wheatland.  The WODA Group LLC is looking to purchase the land from the city and was looking for a zoning change recommendation from the GHAC Zoning Committee. They are requesting a change from NE(Neighborhood Edge)/NG(Neighborhood General) to a PUD-8.  PUD-8 means a Planned Urban Developement at 8 units per acre.  A total of 135 units are planned for this 3 phase, 20 acre development.

Phase 1 is a 3 story senior complex with 60 units that would be built beginning in the spring of 2013.  The building would be for folks age 55 and over with an income of 50% or less of the median income for our area.  There would be 1 and 2 bedroom units available.

The plans for the second and third phases seem to be more uncertain.  The zoning committee needs some additional information and no decisions were made tonight.  Folks, this is the largest undeveloped piece of property in our area and  what happens here is important to everyone. Several members of the HWNA were there tonight asking questions and raising concerns.  I hope everyone will get involved in the process and help make sure the land is used for the benefit of the neighborhood. 

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Comment by John R on January 30, 2012 at 9:02pm

Rene,
The meeting at the Hillcrest Baptist Church is for the Greater Columbus Growing Coalition!  Hillcrest is going to have a garden on the Hilltop this year!   The zoning committee meeting is at Homes on the Hill.

Unfortunately, both meetings are on the same night!  I'm going to the church at 6:00 for the meal and some gardening chit-chat and then to the GHAC Zoning Committee meeting at 7:00 at Homes on the Hill!  Everyone is welcome to stop by and join us for a meal before the zoning meeting!

Comment by Rene Schultz on January 30, 2012 at 6:07pm
Where issuppose to be. One message says the church the other at homes on the hil
Comment by John R on January 29, 2012 at 12:15am

I hope everyone that's concerned about this new development will come to the Hilltop Commission zoning meeting on Thursday, Feb. 2 at  7:00PM at Homes on the Hill which is the store front between Chuck E Cheese’s and Feast of the Dragon at Consumer’s Square in front of Kroger and behind McDonalds, off W. Broad, just across Wilson Road.  The address is 3659 Soldano Blvd.

If you have questions or concerns, now is the time to voice them!

Comment by Andrew Hulvey on January 26, 2012 at 5:31pm

Just finished reading through your piece John. As to a coffee shop, coffee tends to be very neighborhood centric. While it can draw outside guests, there is always room for more. Especially in neighborhoods like ours were there is nothing to begin with. 

Comment by Andrew Hulvey on January 26, 2012 at 5:29pm

RE S. Oakley, I just had 3 that were occupied within the last 6 or so months go vacant and boarded up. 

Comment by John R on January 26, 2012 at 10:38am

There doesn't seem to be any comprehensive plan for the Wheatland, Oakley, Wayne area and it's getting more run down each year.  Adding more housing while we have so many vacant houses is what leaves me scratching my head and one reason I'm wondering how this new project on Wheatland makes any sense!  

Kelly's got a good idea!  Matt, you compared these developers to yourself and to the house you bought and fixed up.  The big difference between your investment home and WODA's investment home(s) is that we all know you'll care about what happens with your new investment.  You have a persoanal committment to this area and there will be consequences for you if your rental house has problems.  

The WODA Group has no personal committment to our area and you can bet there won't be any personal consequences to anyone at WODA no matter what happens to their development on Wheatland.  No one at WODA will lose any sleep.  Not a one of them will lose their job and not a one of them will lose a penny.  That's how it works for large connected corporations.  That's the difference.

Along with Kelly's rehab idea, I'd like to see about half of the houses on Wheatland, Oakley, and Wayne torn down and used as sites for for-profit urban agriculture and the rest can be rehabed.  This could all be done as part of a sustainable green city project and a lot of it could be done by community members and maintained by folks in the neighborhood.

Large cities like Detroit and Cleveland are already working on large scale urban agriculture projects for some of their blighted neighborhoods.  According to the OHIO AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER at OSU, urban farmers can gross up to $90,000 per acre by selecting the right crops and growing techniques.

$90,000 an Acre? See How Polyculture Plots Work

One advantage of this idea is it is new to Columbus.  Some of the other ideas I've heard for Highland West sound like the same thing that's already been done in other parts of Columbus.  Maybe I'm getting too old and am out of touch, but how many artists and coffee drinkers are there in Columbus?  How many more neighborhoods in Columbus need a coffee shop and artist lofts as a starting point for redevelopment?

Comment by kelly krause on January 26, 2012 at 8:45am

Since there are so many vacant homes here on the Hilltop, I think my idea is the way to go. If we could form a co-op and purchase some of  these homes, rehab them, sell or rent them... put the money back into the co-op to pay those who helped on the rehab and help out the community . There are so many of us that are skilled and can do the rehab. The main thing would be to get the back property tax abated. I know the property we purchased had $5K back taxes and sewer leans so that was a bummer. But all in all, It was still worth it. Now to get the rest of Wayne Ave vacant houses dealt with. there are about 15 just from Broad to Steel. One is a dbl owned by someone in Dublin 93-95, it burned and  he has no intent to rehab it. Told me  " it is not my neighborhood why should I care" LOOKS LIKE CRAP!!  99 is a bank owned house drug house, 105 is a burn out owned by Green County ACE Task force, 127 is vacant, 129 is vacant, 165 vacant, 128 vacant  76 vacant, that;s just from Violet to Steel. N Oakley is just as bad.. Some really nice houses there, just need some TLC

Comment by Geoffrey Phillips on January 24, 2012 at 2:41pm

 

One thing that I have gleaned from studying some of the their other projects is that these "single family houses" are generally low income rentals for 15 years, after which the people still living there may buy them.  Their rental payments during the 15 years goes toward the down payment.  If this is a part of the Wheatland Crossing project, we were never told about this ... they made it seem as if they would be sold outright to families that qualify, which is a family of 2 could make no more than $28,000.00/year.  Back around 2004 the City removed the availability of "revitalization" grants from being used on any hilltop projects.  Those are the dollars they use routinely on the eastside, build houses, retail them at $150,000.00+, and make them available for anyone to buy regardless of their income level.  This creates stability for neighborhoods that have not yet tanked, which is why the use of these funds in certain areas of the city does raise an eyebrow.  The only grants available for the hilltop to use for neighborhood development are the "Affordable Housing" grants which have the requirement that they cannot be purchased by anyone who does not qualify as low income, that is, for example, a family of two having to make less than $28,000.00/year.  These particular grants are supposed to be used only in neighborhoods where the housing stock is so bad, that they need to level the area and start over again.  Since we have been known throughout the City to the folks at CMHA as having the best housing stock available for placement of their tenants, I do not see why these funds are being used in this neighborhood.  It almost sounds as if these funds were tailor made for areas such as Mt. Vernon Avenue, E. Livingston, the near northeast side, Weinland Park, etc.  The question needs to be raised to HUD as to why these funds seem to be swapped and are not being used as intended.  This makes mixed income development anywhere on the hilltop extremely difficult and this is exactly the kind of development we need in order to stabilize the area and make it grow.  At the same time, we should not always be saying no to any form of development either, as we are kind of famous for that throughout the city.  I guess the question in my mind regarding my vote is this going to be ultimately in the best interests of Highland West.  The other large concern I have is that the City wants to rezone the entire acreage from its present single family home designation, BUT they are only willing to sell one third of it to the developer at this point to put in the senior housing.  The housing is fine, as I have no issue with the senior housing, but leaving the remaining part of the parcel under City ownership with the new zoning attached to it does not make me feel extremely comfortable.  My preference would be to have the private developer purchase the entire tract up front.  Has anyone google mapped the areas around existing properties listed in all the links to see the affects, if any, the project in that community may have had on the areas around them?  That would be interesting to do the street view thing and take a look.  The other thing that bothers me is the 15 year rent-to-own lease thing ... usually those arrangements are not for that long of a period of time and the purchaser is able to refinance the loan, fulfilling the lease and have full ownership.  From what I read, refinancing during the 15 years does not appear to be an option.  I'm not trying to characterize the project as being good or bad by what I have written, but we really need a few more answers.  What could this designation of "affordable housing only" mean for our future ... can this designation be changed?   What do we need to do to make that happen so projects such as this don't seem so threatening to people if they also see mixed income development as well.

Comment by Matt on January 24, 2012 at 7:53am

The landbank houses in the area start as low as 500 for purchase.

 

http://development.columbus.gov/LandRedevelopment/SearchProperty.as...

Comment by John R on January 23, 2012 at 3:13pm

Anyone need a new house?  I just posted the listings of available houses for sale in the Highland West area.  This doesn't include vacants that aren't for sale.  There are over 75 houses currently for sale in our area.  Very reasonable prices!  Check out the PHOTO Section to see the list!  Too bad there isn't any money out there to help deserving people buy a house.

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