The Jeffrey Mining site, long fallow after more than a decade's worth of attempts to fully develop it, should see signs of life with the coming of spring.
The Jeffrey Mining site, long fallow after more than a decade’s worth of attempts to fully develop it, should see signs of life with the coming of spring.
But the Italian Village Commission wants Wagenbrenner Development to tweak its designs for Jeffrey Park before it begins to build 261 rental units on the northern part of the property at N. 4th Street and E. 1st Avenue.
“We are still seeing things that make it appear a little bit like a development rather than a small urban neighborhood” as promised, said Benjamin Goodman, a commission member.
Wagenbrenner plans to build 12 three- and four-story buildings on the former industrial site north of Downtown. One building will have 80 units; another, 74.
Last month, the commission approved the apartments on the condition that Wagenbrenner address seven items at its Dec. 18 meeting, including breaking up first-floor railings with brick walls and other materials, developing plans for lighting and landscaping, creating a variety of distinctive signs and building alleys that resemble those in the neighborhood.
Jason Sudy, an Italian Village commissioner, said the commission wants to make sure the project doesn’t look like a big apartment complex with no character. But Sudy, a city planner at Side Street Planning, said Wagenbrenner has “attempted to mix a traditional approach with more-contemporary elements.”
Plans evoke the industrial history of the site and call for the units to be built out to the streets, he said. The Jeffrey Mining Machinery Co. built coal-mining machines there starting in 1888, according to the State Library of Ohio, which is now housed in former Jeffrey buildings across 1st Avenue from the development site.
Rents would be $1,100 a month for a one-bedroom unit and $1,650 for a two-bedroom, said Robert Harris, a Wagenbrenner designer on the project. The units will be marketed to young professionals and empty-nesters looking to move back into the city.
Harris said the company hopes to break ground on the apartments in the spring, with completion in 2014.
Company President Mark Wagenbrenner said that while the buildings look “pretty modern,” they’re in step with what the commission wants.
“We want to do it right,” he said.
The company intends to present plans for 73 for-sale town houses to the commission in January, Harris said.
In all, the company envisions a $180 million, 1,340-unit development on the 41.5-acre site owned by Wagenbrenner.
Twelve years ago, developer Joseph Recchie announced plans to build a $200 million development on the property. His company put up 11 town houses along N. 4th Street and a building with 30 loft apartments toward the back of the site. He received $4.4 million in state and local grants and loans to develop the property.
But he ran into financial difficulties, including defaulting in 2007 on two notes totaling $14 million to buy more than 25 acres of the site. The development stalled. Recchie’s $35.9 million proposal to develop a medical-office park on the site went nowhere.
Sudy is confident Wagenbrenner will come through because of other projects under way.
Wagenbrenner plans to build up to 500 homes at the old Columbus Coated Fabrics site in Weinland Park, east of the Ohio State University campus, and is redeveloping and building other homes in the same neighborhood.
Wagenbrenner said national trends show a return to urban living. Hundreds of new apartments are already in the works for Downtown, the Arena District and the Brewery District.
“We’re bullish on Downtown housing, particularly rental,” he said.