CDDC’s Topiary Park Crossing affordable housing development moves one step closer to reality

Columbus Business First

COLUMBUS (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST) — Columbus Downtown Development Corp.’s plan for affordable housing near Topiary Park will likely move forward this fall after a recent conceptual review.

The Topiary Park Crossing apartment complex would be located at 497 E. Town St. The project was presented to the Downtown Commission on Tuesday and the Historic Resources Commission the week prior. Both commissions have to approve the project before it can break ground.

CDDC purchased the 0.72-acre parcel in February for $1.8 million, according to property records. It’s been vacant for a few years and some ideas had come forth for residential projects there, including a potential seven-story tower pitched in 2016. Franklin University held it for a time before that, and the site has some residual concrete rubble from the medical building demolished there a decade ago.

CDDC is proposing about a hundred units, with half at 100% of the area median income, a quarter of them at 80% AMI, and another quarter of them at 60% AMI.

Amy Taylor, CDDC president, said creating a mixed-income neighborhood within the Town Street Historic District is important to the CDDC and their partners at the city.

“We’ve heard from the mayor and city council that they wanted mixed-income. We all feel strongly about downtown being for everyone,” Taylor told Columbus Business First. “We want to make sure everyone who wants to live downtown is able to live downtown.”

The project would be six stories tall, with 50 parking spots and amenity spaces on the first floor. There are also plans for an outdoor terrace on the second floor.

The building will be set back from Town Street, and include a mix of one-bedroom and two-bedroom units.

“We want everyone to be able to live, work and play downtown,” Taylor said. “We want people like nurses and firefighters to be able to afford to live downtown. We want to create a community where there are people of all incomes, world views, and ages.”

Taylor said projects like Columbus Commons and the Scioto Mile have allowed everyone to be able to “play” downtown. There were already opportunities for all to “work” downtown, she said, and now this project will take care of the “live” aspect of that phrase.

“We had looked at this site for years. It is in the heart of a historic district and overlooks one of the most beautiful parks in Columbus,” she said.

The apartment building would complement the homes and other buildings already in the area, with an older, more house-like feel that features a turret. The main goal of the project is to be affordable, but not look like “affordable housing.”

Matt Lutz, chief development officer for CDDC, said that Columbus Landmarks helped imagine the design. They even gave a tour of the neighborhood and looked at “the fine details.”

“We wanted something that would fit into the neighborhood, but still be distinct,” Lutz said. “We want it to be organic.”

Taylor said there has been a lot of excitement from the neighborhood about this project and some people have been asking to sign up to live there already. She said as the organization gets closer to finding a property manager and breaking ground, which she hopes will be spring of 2022, there will be more information about leasing opportunities.

Taylor said the project will likely go back to both commissions in either September or October for approval.

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