Housing project at former church gets initial approval

City leaders have given their initial approval to the expansion of a designated economic revitalization area for an affordable-housing project.

The Woda Group, developer for the proposed Bartholomew on Sycamore LLC, plans to build a 60-unit residential complex at Eighth and Sycamore streets on the site of the former St. Bartholomew Catholic Church. Columbus City Council members on Monday passed a resolution amending the city’s Ninth Street Park area comprehensive revitalization plan to modify the boundaries so that it expands 1½ blocks west.

The economic revitalization area expansion was necessary due to the number of proposed units tied to the project being increased from 34 to 60, said Robin Hilber, community development programs coordinator.

The city had previously approved the revitalization area boundaries and a property tax abatement for the development in 2015. However, Hilber said a public hearing will be Oct. 4 concerning the expanded area for anyone wanting to weigh in on the matter.

Columbus City Council members will vote that evening on a resolution for the economic revitalization area. If it passes, city officials will also be asked to approve a 10-year property tax abatement for the project as well, Hilber said.

The Woda Group plans to restore the former St. Bartholomew Catholic Church into community and artist studio space as part of the project, which is estimated to cost nearly $10 million. The former school on the property will be torn down.

The development was among three proposed affordable housing and senior living complexes in Columbus that were denied state tax credit financing earlier this year. However, the developer plans to begin construction next year if tax credits are approved by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, according to the city.