Hilliard Northwest News

'The Silo' gets new name

'Landmark Lofts' development to be presented Feb. 14

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The residential and retail development proposed at Cemetery Road and Franklin Street is expected to have a new name when developers present it to Hilliard officials next week.

Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission members are expected to consider the development plan for Landmark Lofts, formerly referred to as The Silo project, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, at the Hilliard Municipal Building, 3800 Municipal Way.

Hilliard Economic Development Director David Meeks said the developers amended the project name to Landmark Lofts to more accurately reflect the structure being refurbished and as a nod to the former owner of the property.

The four-story stone structure on the site is an inoperable grain elevator. The elevator once was owned and operated by the Landmark Co., whose orange and black block "L" has since faded from the edifice of the structure adjacent to train tracks that crossed Cemetery Road until an overpass was completed the early 1980s.

Some residents expressed concerns about the project to the developers and city officials Jan. 16. They cited the plan for high-density of apartments and the resulting increase in traffic from the apartments and retail businesses. They also indicated they would attend the Feb. 14 meeting to state their position.

Seven of those residents formed the Landmark Lofts Neighborhood Steering Committee and met Jan. 30 with the project developers and Hilliard officials at the Northwest Franklin County Historical Society on Norwich Street in Hilliard.

City officials have said they would expect Landmark Lofts to bolster the city's economy, particularly in Old Hilliard, and to capitalize on the extension of the Heritage Trail recreational path from its current terminus at Main and Center streets in Old Hilliard.

Landmark Lofts would include multiple four-story buildings with approximately 185 one and two-bedroom apartments on the second, third and fourth floors. Ground-floor development would consist of retail shops and restaurants, likely including the relocated Starliner Diner.

The grain elevator would be converted into a community center for tenants of the apartment buildings and would include a pool, gym, and rental office. The first floor would be available for public use.

The $15-18 million project also would align Luxair Drive with Franklin Street.

Ben Buoni, chairman of the Landmark Lofts Neighborhood Steering Committee, said while residents do not oppose development, the proposed density is too high and far in excess of the comprehensive plan for the area.

"Based on the comprehensive plan, we expect it to be enforced (by city officials)," Buoni said. "This project can benefit the surrounding area only if it is done correctly."

John Royer, a partner with Kohr Royer Griffith, developer of the project; Jim Bender, of JL Bender Architects and Planners; and attorney Glen Dugger, an attorney with Smith and Hale, outlined the proposed development Jan. 16 to approximately 30 residents. Meeks, Mayor Don Schonhardt and Director of Public Service Butch Seidle also were at the meeting.

Royer, Dugger, Meeks and City Councilman Al Iosue met Jan. 30 with the seven members of the steering committee. The steering committee members are Buoni, Dan Bloch, Tom Grove, Gary Kimes, Lisa McLaughlin, Randy Smith and Eric Tidrick.

Buoni said developers agreed to move one of the new buildings farther away from the backyard lots of Norwich Street, but otherwise appeared steadfast on the proposed density of the apartments and the results of a traffic study, which residents openly challenged at the Jan. 16 meeting.

Letty Schamp, Hilliard's transportation engineer, said the submitted traffic plan is consistent with the city's comprehensive plan.

Meeks said Feb. 4 the one- and two-bedroom apartments at Landmark Lofts would attract what city officials most covet: 20-something professionals with no children and disposable income to spend in the city.

Many of those tenants are anticipated to come from the estimated 500 jobs IBM plans to add at a Dublin office, Meeks said.

"We want those people making $80,000 to $90,000 a year to spend that disposable income in Old Hilliard," Meeks said.

Meeks said the current number of apartments, 185, is required to make the project viable.

"If the density of apartments is lowered, there would need to be three-bedroom apartments to make up the difference in rent, and we don't want three-bedroom apartments," Meeks said.

According to the Franklin County Auditor's Office, the owner of the 5-acre property at 5250 Franklin St., the site of the development, is Margulies, Margulies and Margulies.

Hilliard City Council has approved a tax-increment financing district on the 5-acre parcel. Revenue from the TIF is expected to fund infrastructure improvements needed for the development.

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