A new affordable housing complex is quickly springing up on the east side of the former Golden Foundry site, as plans gel for the future of the west side of the property.

The 60-unit Gateway Apartments, a $10 million project, is being built on 4.5 acres near 10th Street and Cottage Avenue.

The plan is to have the first Gateway units available for tenants in November, with rentals continuing through the late spring of next year as new apartments are completed, said developer Tim Morgan, president of the Ohio-based Jonesboro Investment Corp.

Potential tenants may start making inquiries immediately after the Gateway clubhouse and rental office opens, possibly as early as mid-September, Morgan said.

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That’s not a moment too soon in the opinion of Carl Malysz, the city’s community development director.

“The affordable housing market in Columbus is very, very tight,” Malysz said. “It’s yearning for these 60 units to come on line.”

To illustrate his point, Malysz said preliminary figures from a survey now being completed by his department show the vacancy rate for 1,131 affordable housing units currently available in Columbus is only 2.1 percent.

“Goodness knows, we do have people who are trying to make a difference in their lives that need that extra boost (with affordable housing),” said Rick Gardner, Housing Development Manager for project partner Thrive Alliance.

Under affordable housing guidelines, tenants are not required to pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income toward rent.

Gardner said he’s also confident the new development will have a positive impact on neighboring property values.

An affordable option

Kenneth Harris was checking out the quick-moving progress on the three-story, energy-efficient apartments going up in front of his home at 1041 Cottage Ave.“This is great for people who can’t afford the high rents,” Harris said. “It’s going to help people tremendously.”The new view from his front porch is preferable to what he saw while Golden Castings was in operation from 1924 through 2003, Harris said.

“This is a lot cleaner and much better to look at than the old foundry, which affected the whole neighborhood,” Harris said. “It left a nasty layer of red dust and grime on the streets, sidewalks — and everything else.”

Harris’ only reservation is not knowing what caliber of tenants the affordable-housing project will attract. He is particularly concerned about drug activity.

As the Gateway property managers, it will be the responsibility of TWG Management LLC, to enact rules and regulations that will keep drug and other criminal activity in the Gateway complex to a minimum, Gardner said.

The Indianapolis-based organization has extensive experience in monitoring its tenants, as well as a reputation for taking appropriate actions to reduce illegal drug activity on the properties they manage, Gardner said.

Speedy construction

In recent weeks, many Columbus residents said they’re amazed at the speed of the apartment construction.Even construction site foreman Wes Potts said he’s surprised by the work the two dozen construction workers have achieved.“When I left for a one-week vacation, they didn’t have anything up (on one building site), but when I came back, they already had the first two floors done,” said Potts, a supervisor for LBG Construction of Odon. “Two days later, they had the third floor done.”

For the city’s community development department, that’s great news regarding a massive project that has been temporarily stalled by rain and storms several times this summer, Malysz said.

Potts said there were a number of positive non-weather-related delays requested by one of the building partners to ensure quality.

“Based on my experience, this indicates a demand for high standards that gives me confidence these will structurally be really good buildings,” Potts said.

Those standards also illustrate a high degree of pride among project partners in their efforts to provide affordable quality housing in a city where it is sorely needed, Morgan said.

“The Gateway units will be considered exceptional bargains for their quality in the Columbus market,” he added.

Ongoing negotiations

Jonesboro Investments officially was awarded $971,161 in federal tax credits and $500,000 in state funding early last year to support the development.

Morgan initially had expressed interest in purchasing the western 8.3 acres to build another 200 apartment units but has since dropped those plans.

Currently, an Indianapolis developer is considering building up to 190 units of both affordable and market-rent units being built on the site, according to Carl Malysz, Columbus Community Development director.

Harris’ next-door neighbor, Alayne Byrd, has lived in the same house off Cottage Avenue for more than 20 years. She said she agrees with Harris that the foundry site has always been an eyesore — before and after the building had been torn down.

While looking forward to seeing the apartments when construction is finished, Byrd mentioned one small drawback about not living across the street from an empty lot.

“Now that these buildings are going up, my family won’t be able to see the Ethnic Expo fireworks from our house …” Byrd said.

A few moments later, a smile emerged on her face as Byrd finished her thought.

“But I can live with that. These apartments will bring a very positive change to our neighborhood — and they sure look a lot better than nothing.”

Site timeline

1924

Columbus Foundry Co., owned by Walter I. Golden, purchases Caldwell and Drakes Ironworks on 10th Street, renames it Golden Foundry.

2000

Company tests solicited by Arvin Industries show the foundry is in violation of federal emissions laws.

2003

Golden files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and ceases operation.

2005

KLM National pays $587,000 for the property.

2006

KLM had salvaged about 7,000 tons of material from the site. The city holds public hearings for a redevelopment-options study of the property.

2012

City staff conduct public hearings to update redevelopment-options study. The City Council approves the update to the foundry site study.

March 2013

KLM National seeks approval from the Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals to operate a recycling center on the western 8.3 acres of the 12.8-acre former Golden site.

June 2013

Citing a number of potential problems, the Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals denies plans for a recycling center. 

January 2014

City officials said they hope two new reuse possibilities could redevelop the site, including Gateway Apartments, a proposed $10.2 million affordable housing complex on about a five-acre parcel, and WDG Construction Group, which wants to build an assisted-living center and memory care center on another part of the property.

February 2014

Gateway Apartments and developer Jonesboro Investments Corp., Chagrin Falls, Ohio, receive $971,161 in affordable-housing tax credits, renewable for 10 years, which will provide the equity to build the 60-unit apartment complex on the site.

September 2014

The city secures a $157,755 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to clear the western portion of the former Golden Casting Foundry site and make way for a new assisted-living facility. Developers pull $6.2 million in county permits to build Gateway Apartments, with construction set to begin in the spring.

November 2014

After plans for the proposed assisted-living center and memory care facility are abandoned, Jonesboro Investments expresses interest in obtaining the western portion of the site.

April 2

Rain causes groundbreaking for the Gateway Apartments to be delayed. It’s the first of many times that construction became stalled due to inclement weather. 

Aug 6

While Jonesboro Investments confirms it is no longer trying to acquire the western site, the city confirms another established apartment developer is in the final stage of discussions with KLM.  

November

The first units of the Gateway Apartments are expected to be available for lease, with subsequent rentals likely to continue through May 2016.    

Gateway overview

Gateway Apartments

Location: 1616 10th St., the eastern portion of the former Golden Foundry site

Unit mix: 36 two-bedroom apartments, 24 three-bedroom apartments

Available: Beginning November 2015 through May 2016.

Rent:  Income-based, but not to exceed 30 percent of monthly income

Developers: Jonesboro Investments and Thrive Alliance

Public investment: $971,161 in federal tax credits and $500,000 in state funding

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.