Rocky Fork Enterprise

Creekside condo owners fear units could become apartments

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Gahanna's Creekside condominium owners are concerned the remaining units could be turned into apartments by pending owner Strathmore Development Co., a Michigan-based company.

Several Creekside condo owners recently took their concerns to Gahanna City Council members, who noted their worries and would offer only empathy for the time being.

City attorney Shane Ewald said he couldn't share anything with the condo owners until closing on the private portion of the development.

The $60 million mixed-used development includes 71 upscale condominiums, only 11 of which have been sold.

Court-appointed receiver Ohio Equities LLC filed a motion in Franklin County Common Pleas Court in February, recommending that the court approve the $10.5 million sale of the360,000-square-foot project to the East Lansing-based Strathmore.

Creekside Park, the plaza and the garage are owned by the city and are not part of the deal.

Ohio Equities' Mark Froehlich told ThisWeek on May 24 that he's working to secure a closing date with Strathmore in the near future. He said the Creekside development has been a complex situation from the beginning because it's unusual -- a partnership of private and public entities.

"It's not unusual for the process to take this long," he said.

Sandra Miller said she was the first to buy a loft at Creekside.

"I bought into the vision of the development and city," she said.

She asked how apartments would affect her and the other condo owners who had bought into that vision.

"I'm concerned about property values," she said.

Condo owner Dwaine Gould said his primary concern is the number of units.

"It was originally designed for 71 units," he said. "We'd be concerned if it went over (that)."

He said the development has two very slow elevators that access the condos, and the physical components wouldn't be conducive to more than 71 units.

Moreover, Gould said, he's concerned about rentals and a new developer wanting to raise capital quickly.

"That puts us in a dilemma," he said. "We wouldn't be able to find conventional buyers. We still believe in the vision. We want to be part of the process and see how it unfolds."

Condo owner Marie Olon said she was attracted to Creekside, and enjoys the Blues & Jazz Festival.

"I have concerns about the units being divided to more than 71 and property values dropping further," she said. "How would you feel if you found out most homes on your block were up for rent?"

Condo owner Pete Wang said he and his wife had looked all around central Ohio before choosing Creekside.

"Creekside is a gathering point of all Gahanna," he said. "I feel it's a fabulous location. It's a lively place with so much potential. A rumor that the potential owner wants to create a bunch of apartments quickly flips the project. I don't feel that's what Gahanna's community would want."

Wang said everyone wants the area to be developed again but it should be developed properly.

Ewald said the sale of Creekside should be completed in about a month.

"At this point, I don't think we have anything we can share," he said. "We don't know if there would be apartments or condos."

He said the city would have no control unless the zoning would change.

Mayor Becky Stinchcomb said no plans have arrived as of yet for the development.

Council member Karen Angelou told the Creekside residents the area is considered "the heart of Gahanna."

Council member Beryl Anderson concurred that Creekside is the heartbeat center of the community. She said it's important to have the right buyer, and it's not solely about money.

Council president Brian Larick thanked the Creekside condo owners for expressing their concerns.

"It's important to have your voice heard publicly," he said.

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