Housing a hot topic at Springfield commission meeting

City approves apartment complex on Hillside and establishes planned housing development for large east-side project.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

New housing developments and existing housing problems both featured prominently in the Springfield City Commission agenda on Monday evening.

The session, typically held on Tuesdays, was moved to Monday to avoid conflicting with Election Day.

During a commission session two weeks ago, community members adjacent to a proposed apartment complex expressed concerns about traffic congestion, green space and entrance and exit locations. The project is planned for 2.535 acres at 2251 Hillside Ave. and would permit development of a multi-family apartment rental complex.

Commissioners asked the developer, Clay Chester, and community members to discuss solutions to conflicts.

The commission gave a green-light to the project Monday.

“I appreciate the developer bringing quality housing to a legacy neighborhood and listening to the neighbors,” Commissioner Rob Rue said, praising the parties for working together toward resolution.

Commissioners indicated city staffers will continue to review community concerns and work with both sides to adjust plans now that the development has been given approval.

Commission members also approved designation of a planned housing development on the east side as the East Springfield Community Reinvestment Area.

The city is working with Dillin and Borror Developers in a multi-phase project that will bring single, multi-family and patio style homes to a 378-acre site over the next several years. The first phase of the project, consisting of 60 to 80 houses and a couple hundred apartments, is expected to be completed in late 2023 or early 2024.

The master plan for the Melody Parks planned community calls for diverse housing options, neighborhood focused businesses and green space amenities. The location is a site formerly home to the Melody Drive In. It will also include land designated for the Nextedge Applied Research and Technology Park, managed by the Community Improvement Corporation, the workforce and economic development arm of the Greater Springfield Partnership.

For the Columbus based-Borror, the project is an expansion into the Clark County area following multiple community property development projects in the center city and suburbs of Columbus.

Prior to the regular meeting, commissioners received a presentation on a proposed Rental Property Registry and Licensure program. Steve Thompson, Community Development deputy director, shared information about a registration plan that would roll out in 2023 aimed at addressing ongoing issues with some of the city’s rental properties.

The goal would be to improve the quality of rental properties rented by 51% of households in the city. Other Ohio cities, including Youngstown and Canton, have adopted the approach as a proactive means of assuring property owners are responsive to such property problems as rotting floors, roof damage, broken toilets, wiring issues and other concerns that pose health and safety risks for renters.

City efforts to force correction to complaints has been complicated by the issue of ownership now often buried under multiple corporate layers of ownership. The proposed registry would enable the city to better identify landlords and enforce penalties for non-compliance.

A formal proposal will be brought before the commission in December that will call for a phased-in introduction of the registry and licensure program. Fees annually would be $35 for a single rental property; $25 for two or more properties; up a $750 maximum per owner for multiple properties.

Citing the recent implementation and success of the Vacant Property Registry, city officials say the effort will focus on fairly balancing the interests of tenants and landlords while protecting city housing stock from further decline.

City commissioners also moved forward with approvals for architectural design and construction of four new fire stations to be completed over the next two years. A ground-breaking ceremony for the first of the new structures is scheduled for 1:30 pm today.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been corrected from an earlier version regarding the theater and the Community Improvement Corporation.)

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