Developers are ready to move forward with the construction of a large-scale apartment complex planned between Polaris Parkway and County Line Road west of Alum Creek.
The Westerville Planning Commission approved the final development plan for the first phase of construction for the Ravines at Westar at its April 24 meeting.
With the approval, the last vote needed by developers NP Limited and Trivium, construction will be able to begin this summer and wrap up within 18 months, said NP Limited Managing Director Franz Geiger.
"We want to get started ASAP," Geiger said.
The appearance of the developer before the planning commission provided the first view of what the large-scale apartment complex will look like. When both phases are completed, 504 apartment units will sit on 54 acres.
The apartment buildings, billed as "luxury" by the developer, will be built along an extension of Worthington Road between County Line Road and Polaris Parkway, with a connector to Old Worthington Road also planned.
The development is meant to have a European style with Tudor-inspired elements, said architect David Meleca. The construction will be mostly brick with some stone and vinyl detailing.
A large, entirely brick clubhouse with pool will sit at the site's corner, at the roundabout planned for the public roadway.
Buildings constructed to the street and an extensive sidewalk system along the site are intended to create an urban, walkable feel, said Westerville Senior Planner Bassem Bitar.
Members of the commission were positive about Maleca's architecture, but expressed concerns about the amount of vinyl siding being used on the buildings, which pushed the maximum allotment granted by the commission in the approval of the site's preliminary development plan.
"We still have a heck of a lot of vinyl. We're talking 25-30 percent of vinyl on these buildings," said commission member Gerald Domanik. "A third of it is still vinyl. We allow big changes to density and things like that, we expect something better. This might be great stuff, I don't know. ... I just can't understand why we're doing 35 percent vinyl."
Councilwoman Diane Fosselman, who represents City Council on the commission, echoed those concerns, wondering how the vinyl construction and open stairwells would hold up over time.
"I still have a fundamental concern about is this product a product that's going to be an asset to the community 20 years from now, 30 years from now, 40 years from now," Fosselman said.
Geiger defended the development.
"This is a very handsome development. We've listened to the concerns; I think we've addressed them," Geiger said. "I ask you tonight to not get hooked up on one material: Look at the overall design."
The commission members ultimately set aside their concerns, voting unanimously that the plan did not require further approval from Westerville City Council and approving it.
"As much as I don't like the vinyl, I can probably accept it," Domanik said. "Let's get this thing moving."