Vision plan is 'new way to look at future' of Olde Gahanna
The Gahanna planning commission on June 17 is expected to look at Bird Houk Collaborative's "Vision Plan" for Olde Gahanna.
Bird Houk Collaborative first presented its plan to Gahanna City Council last week.
Jim Houk and Anthony Slanec, representing Bird Houk, called a vision "a new way to look at the future." The approach seeks to blend research, public participation and long-range planning. Its primary purpose is to set goals and objectives that best express the desires of residents.
"It will identity the actions needed to accomplish the vision and define the roles and responsibilities of the institutions and people who cam make it happen," the written introduction to the plan states.
Bird Houk and city officials look to transform the "vision" into an overlay district plan, designed to guide development.
What this does, according to the plan, is threefold:
• Guide officials in evaluating all of the proposed projects -- public and private -- in the downtown core of Gahanna. The overlay and the future Downtown Gahanna Design Standards document would be the measure of the project's worthiness.
• Inform and guide property owners -- current and prospective -- and developers as to what they need to do and what is likely to be approved for the downtown area by city staff, the planning commission and Gahanna City Council.
• Measure progress and effectiveness in the redevelopment of Olde Gahanna.
During the meeting, the consultants and council members pointed out that the 1997 "Landings of Gahanna" conceptual development plan didn't come to fruition exactly as it was set up. For example, there are no canals under Mill Street.
There are, however, an underground parking garage, three-story buildings, a fountain and many other concepts that were in the 1997 plan, which was put together by Urban Spaces.
Moreover, Houk said, the principles of that plan were implemented and the principles of this plan will be implemented when the redevelopment is done.
The first step for the plan, and the first place for the community to have public input, is at the Gahanna planning commission. It will take up the Olde Gahanna Vision Plan during its 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 17, meeting in Gahanna City Hall, 200 S. Hamilton Road.
Bird Houk Collaborative has some new designs on Olde Gahanna.
The consultants last week identified four PDAs (potential development areas) along Mill Street where they believe drastic change could occur.
Gahanna development director Sadicka White said the idea of redevelopment is on hold for now, though, with the economy struggling. She said that when the upswing comes, however, Gahanna needs to be ready. It's going to change and it could change very quickly, she said.
Those PDAs are all over Olde Gahanna, but four are on Mill Street, including an area of single-family housing.
"We're not trying to force anybody out of their home," said Jim Houk, a principal with the Bird Houk Collaborative, as he introduced the plan for the area to Gahanna City Council last week. "This is just what the vision group thought the highest and best use of that property is."
The plan states that willing participants are a must for the redevelopment. The plan defines PDAs as areas that would make the biggest difference as a catalyst for similar development. The vision plan also looks at those potential development areas in groups, with the first group being on the west side of Mill Street, starting at Carpenter. Starting with Gahanna Auto Sales and going north, this group includes 3.4 acres of single-family homes, Gahanna Auto Sales and a gravel parking lot.
A 1.4-acre group is on the west side of Mill, starting at the northern end of the current Creekside Plaza. It includes the Skybox, Next Level Fitness and the Brew-Thru.
A third grouping is 0.7 acre at Mill and the south side of Carpenter Road, where a commercial building stands.
Directly south of that is the next group, 1.4 acres containing a car wash, Creekside Office Center and apartments.
The final location on Mill, but on the south end of Creekside Plaza, is the C. Stefano building.
The vision plan does not state what would replace these PDAs. It only suggests what might replace them.
On Mill and Granville, for example, the plan postulates a higher-density residential development that takes advantage of natural structures. If, as the plan suggests, a senior housing assisted-living facility were built there, it would need good access to the nearby parks.
On Mill and Carpenter, across from Creekside, the plan suggests a high-density development with a boutique hotel.
The plan recommends "high-quality architecture" on this corner, as it is one of the gateways to Olde Gahanna.
The plan also suggests that the city should use some way of identifying these gateways, such as the arch over the bridge on U.S. Route 62 as it comes into Olde Gahanna.
Perhaps, Houk said, each gateway would have an arch with the "G" insignia. It could simply be a "G" on the base of a light post, he said.
The criteria used to choose potential development sites were as follows:
• Size of contiguous parcels with similar land ownership.
• Identification of parcels that do not conform with the land-use plan and characteristics of the Olde Gahanna zoning district.
• The ability to successfully integrate development parcels into the nearby residential neighborhoods.
• Remediation of blight, a property that impairs growth or impedes progress.
• Working within the confines of historical structures and culturally significant elements.