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Development proposal keeps living on 1 floor

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More apartments might be coming to the west side of Columbus, but the newest proposal won’t involve multiple-level buildings or the usual pool and clubhouse.

The proposed Flats of Columbus will instead offer one-story apartments designed to feel more like condominiums.

On Wednesday, Columbus Plan Commission members will consider annexing 23.2 acres on Carr Hill Road on behalf of Ohio development company Redwood Acquisition LLC.

The development company hopes to build 130 single-story, upscale apartments that will rent for $1,300 to $1,500 a month. The site is near Menard’s and Charwood Suites, just south of Jonathan Moore Pike.

The proposed apartments could further help address a housing shortage identified in a study of the Columbus market last year.

Preliminary results from the housing survey commissioned by the city’s redevelopment commission showed a need for more homes at both extremes of the economic spectrum, from those needing housing subsidies to those seeking high-end rentals.

In the survey, some major Columbus employers indicated that employees were commuting to Columbus because of the tight rental housing market, Carl Malysz, the city’s community development director, said at the time.

If approved, the apartment complex will be one of seven projects the company has underway in Indiana.

The company, headquartered in Beachwood, Ohio, also has projects in Fort Wayne, Noblesville, Westfield, Brownsburg, Danville and Zionsville, with another planned in Louisville, Ky.

Attracted to Columbus

The project here was formalized after company officials took a look at available building sites in Columbus, and fell in love with the city.

“We love the architecture, the downtown is really neat, and we love the bridge,” said Jim Frey, senior vice president of land acquisition and entitlement for Redwood. “We got here and we just wanted to stop here. It’s very comfortable.”

The proposed apartments are different from the usual three-story, walk-up complexes that have sprung up in Indiana recently, Frey said.

“The Flats of Columbus will underscore the concept of ‘no one above you and no one below you,’” Frey said.

The one-story ranch apartments have three building types, ranging from 1,300 to 1,500 square feet. Options are available with a one-car or two-car garage and with or without a den. There are private front and rear entryways and a rear patio with a privacy fence.

The company anticipates its marketing target will be empty-nesters and young professionals who have tired of sometimes noisy multi-level apartment complexes and want a more homey feel with more separation between the units, Frey said.

The company does not re-sell its complexes and does background checks on those who seek to live there, Frey said. The company’s complexes average 1.8 people per apartment.

Not having a pool or clubhouse fits the company’s marketing plan of making the complex feel more like condos, Frey said. The proposed development does have a pond on the north side.

The developers were impressed with the Carr Hill Road site, saying it had everything they were looking for — close to retail, close to the interstate. “It’s just a great location,” Frey said.

City officials describe it as being “nestled between multi-family development and low-density, single-family residential to the south and commercial development to the north.

Approval process

The property is zoned “agriculture preferred” now. So in addition to the annexation request, the company is seeking rezoning for a residential, multi-family use.

Company officials have invited residents and businesses located in the area to a meeting to learn more about the project before the plan commission meeting Wednesday.

Approvals for the annexation and the rezoning take a parallel course, said Jeff Bergman, City of Columbus and Bartholomew County planning director. Each request is considered separately by the Columbus Planning Commission and then forwarded to the city council with a recommendation.

The city of Columbus’ comprehensive plan had already identified future land use of the property as residential, according to the development company’s application. The property has an access road and city utilities, both water and sanitary sewer, are available, according to the application.

Annexations of smaller property parcels are fairly common for Columbus, about one to three per year, although Bergman said the city did not have any for 2013. This would be the first request for 2014.

If all approvals go through, Frey said construction will begin in April or May at the site, with leasing beginning at the same time. The complex will be ready about four months after construction begins, he said.

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