Plans floated for another large apartment complex
The discussion about density might not end when Westerville City Council votes Nov. 6 on a 504-unit apartment complex between Polaris Parkway and County Line Road west of Alum Creek.
Another apartment complex has been suggested for 30 acres east of Africa Road and south of Polaris Parkway.
Metro Development presented a tentative plan for the site to the Westerville Planning Commission Oct. 24.
The developer asked for feedback only, with plans to come to the city with a formal proposal in the future.
"We are really here to just start the process," said Jill Tangeman, an attorney representing the developer. "What we didn't want to do was plan in a vacuum."
With the preliminary plan showing 11.8 units per acre, density came up as a concern among many of the Planning Commission members.
"With Westerville, when we get high density, we expect high quality," said Gerald Domanik, a commission member.
Originally the site, part of the Altair development, was slated as part of an overall planned district for office development with potential retail along Polaris Parkway, said Westerville Senior Planner Bassem Bitar.
That plan was approved in the mid-1990s and expired after five years, Bitar said.
Another proposal was put before the Planning Commission for the site in 2004 for offices with a retail strip along Polaris Parkway.
A modified version of that plan received a negative recommendation from the Planning Commission to Westerville City Council and never received a vote, Bitar said.
Tangeman said the developer gave up any plans for office development because of a dip in the market.
"The office market is lagging along," she said.
A multifamily development also would provide a transition from the office developments to the west and the single-family residential developments to the east, Tangeman said.
However, Westerville Councilwoman Diane Fosselman, who represents council on the commission, said she prefers to see more office development in the city.
"My priority is the office buildings," she said.
Other members of the commission pushed for a more extraordinary apartment development.
"The product that you put on here needs to be exceptional," said Amy Koorn, a commission member.
Koorn, and other commission members, also expressed concerns about how the apartment complex would tie into surrounding developments for which the city has yet to see plans.
"I don't want to see an island of apartments with farm to the south and single family to the east," Koorn said.