Whitehall News

Homeport has eye on former Swimland site for third phase

Nonprofit group may build more senior housing there; second phase under construction after first proved popular

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Homeport's first foray into Whitehall -- Eastway Village, 4237 E. Broad St. -- was so popular that the development is being expanded, and a third phase is being considered for South Hamilton Road. The nonprofit organization offers housing to low-income senior citizens.

Homeport, a nonprofit organization that provides housing for low-income senior citizens, is poised to expand its footprint in Whitehall -- a community whose residents quickly filled the organization's first development.

Sixty-six one- and two-bedroom units were completely leased in advance of a dedication for Eastway Village in September 2013.

A second phase of 32 additional units is underway at Eastway Village, 4237 E. Broad St.

Homeport plans to build additional units at a second site in Whitehall if the organization is successful in obtaining federal tax credits through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, said George Tabit, vice president of real estate development for Homeport.

"We are certainly optimistic we will receive the tax credits (needed to finance the development)," Tabit said.

If financing is approved as expected, Homeport would purchase a 4.8-acre site from the city of Whitehall for $300,000, said Whitehall Development Director Zach Woodruff.

Whitehall City Council members, at their Jan. 21 meeting, unanimously approved the purchase of the same parcel for $300,000.

Located at the southeast corner of South Hamilton and Etna roads, the three-lot parcel is the former site of Swimland, a privately owned swimming pool that closed about 12 years ago.

The city purchased it from Ethiopian Ortho Tewando Church.

If the unexpected occurs and Homeport does not acquire the site, it will remain in possession of the city.

Regardless, Woodruff said the city would have purchased the land in keeping with its goal to guide the nature of development.

The purchase was made "to gain control of happens in our city," Woodruff said.

"(The purchase) represents a continuing shift in our aggressiveness to determine the kinds of development we want to see.

"We can't sit back and wait for the private sector to do everything," said Woodruff, pointing to the city's acquisition of the former Bill Swad Chevrolet dealership on South Hamilton Road, recently sold to Priority Designs. The Gahanna-based company is relocating to Whitehall.

The city also sold property it purchased for the purpose of resale to Lubell Laboratories, a small firm relocating to Whitehall from Bexley.

Woodruff said the former Swimland parcel had "limited frontage" and does not have "significant commercial value."

"The additional housing that Homeport wants to build is needed in our community," said Woodruff, adding the proposed development will serve as a high-quality "gateway" to John Bishop Memorial Park and schools on Etna Road, east of South Hamilton Road.

The second Homeport campus in Whitehall would be called Hamilton Crossing, Tabit said.

Sixty-four units are planned for the first phase. Construction would begin no sooner than spring 2015. The first phase would take nine to 12 months to complete, Tabit said.

The site can accommodate about 85 units, he said.

"After the wild success (of Eastway Village), we expect the same success (at Hamilton Crossing)," Tabit said.

Eastway Village units lack stairs and have walk-in showers and other features that allow Whitehall's growing number of senior citizens to relocate within the city at residences where they comfortably live, Tabit said.

Founded in 1987, Homeport owns about 2,000 units in central Ohio.