The small, ranch-style homes that line the south side of East Wilson Bridge Road could someday be torn down to make way for commercial redevelopment.

The small, ranch-style homes that line the south side of East Wilson Bridge Road could someday be torn down to make way for commercial redevelopment.

The city's Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) has hired the planning firm CSI to evaluate the capacity of the 15 contiguous single-family properties between Westview Avenue and McCord Park.

The properties are zoned R-10, and serve as a buffer between the single-family neighborhoods to the south and the office complexes on the north side of East Wilson Bridge Road.

Those neighbors, along with those who live in or own the homes on the south side of East Wilson Bridge Road, will be involved in any discussions of possible commercial use of the land, said Worthington City Manager Matt Greeson.

But with the infrastructure already in place for office use, and with few other developable plots in the city, it may be time to consider planning for the development of the south side of the roadway, he said.

Both the 2005 Comprehensive Plan and an earlier economic development plan called for the land to be developed either with offices or as mixed use, with townhouse residential uses mixed with offices.

With its offices aging and few areas remaining that can be developed, this strip of land just might be what Worthington needs to spur economic development, Greeson said.

"Worthington has few sites that are properly zoned, have the proper infrastructure and are ready for redevelopment," he said. "This is one of the few possible greenfield sites in the city."

In recent years, companies have approached the city about redeveloping the land, but "we have not been redevelopment ready," Greeson said.

Rather than have a developer drive the project, the CIC decided to initiate a study of the capacity of land in question.

"We need to be in the business of planning for our future and this was one of the areas mentioned in our planning documents," he said.

The task of MSI, which will be paid $12,225 for the project, will be to analyze the capacity of the land, not to suggest zoning changes or to present architectural concepts. Their report will probably be presented at the Nov. 12 CIC meeting.

The CIC has an option of acting as the entrepreneur by developing the land itself, or it can choose to work with the community and the Municipal Planning Commission to plan the site and make it development ready.

Greeson said that some of the houses being eyed are vacant, some are owned by people who have purchased them as speculative investments, and a "handful" are owner-occupied.