Columbus EDC recommends designation for apartment project

Columbus Economic Development Commission members approved recommending a designation that could lead to a city tax abatement for the proposed Home Avenue Apartments.

The proposed, up-scale, market-rate apartment complex is being proposed for the former Faith Victory Church site near Donner Park, a 96-year-old building at 1703 Home Ave. that is deteriorating and has been vacant since 2016.

Property owners and developers Rick and Janeen Sprague purchased the property last July for $275,000 and plan to transform it into 21 efficiency, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments that will rent from $800 to $1,000 a month, Rick Sprague said in an earlier interview.

Commission members Allie Castetter and Roger Hackman voted to recommend the property receive an Economic Development Target Area designation, which is required before the city could consider any request for a tax abatement for the property. Commission member Michael Kinder abstained from voting to avoid a conflict of interest because he lives near the project.

Robin Hilber, Columbus’ programs coordinator in the community development department, said the former church building has several serious structural problems that must be addressed, along with the need for a new roof.

A conditional use application for the 18,696-square-foot structure was approved unanimously by the Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals. The lot already has adequate parking — 35 spaces — when 32 are required by zoning rules.

The apartment proposal has received a positive response from the neighborhood, Hilber said. Last year, a proposal for a supportive housing complex for homeless individuals was dropped after a significant backlash from neighbors.

If eventually approved for a tax abatement, the project will join others such as those approved for Kroger Marketplace, Upland Columbus Pump House, Zaharakos and the old City Hall near the Bartholomew County Library, which was renovated into apartments and offices.

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The Columbus City Council will be asked to consider the Columbus Economic Development Commission’s recommendation to designate the Home Avenue Apartments project as an Economic Development Target Area.

The council will meet at 6 p.m. Feb. 19 at Columbus City Hall council chambers.