Worthington News

Mall apartment proposal

Board demands high-quality, attractive buildings

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This artist's rendering, looking north from West Wilson Bridge Road, shows the proposed apartments at the Shops of Worthington Place. The mall is to the right (east) of the proposed residential building.
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The new apartments to be built at the Shops at Worthington Place must be high quality, offer attractive amenities and create a neighborhood feel if the developer wants the city's blessing.

Traffic flow, landscaping and lighting also must be addressed before approvals are granted for the construction of the Worthington Place residential community, according to feedback from the Worthington Architectural Review Board on Oct. 25.

The meeting was the first public unveiling of plans for the apartment buildings proposed for the north and west parking lots at the mall. Besides architectural approval, the proposal requires a subdivision of parcels, an amendment to the development plan and a conditional-use permit from the Municipal Planning Commission.

"This needs to go forward in total, not in parts," ARB/MPC chairman Richard Hunter said.

The proposal includes a five-story apartment building on the west side of the mall and 21 townhouses north of the mall, facing the south side of Old Wilson Bridge Road.

Original plans called for four stories and 142 units in the apartment building. Another story was added so that 10 three-bedroom units could be included and some of the one-bedroom units could be combined into two-bedroom apartments.

"Larger units are more sustainable," city development coordinator Lynda Bitar said.

She said she expects the buildings to be similar to those being built on Lane Avenue in Upper Arlington by Crawford Hoying Development Partners, the same company that is developing the Worthington Place apartments.

"We expect high-end materials and designs throughout," she said. "We want this to be a place where people live for a long time."

The apartments proposal came as no surprise to the city. Residential units around the mall are included in the Wilson Bridge corridor plan, which creates a vision for the development of Wilson Bridge Road, from the Olentangy River on the west to the railroad tracks on East Wilson Bridge Road.

Tom Carter, co-owner and developer of Worthington Place, said apartments have been in the picture since the mall's purchase two years ago.

Excess land exists around the mall, and the intent was to create a live-work-play environment, he said.

Worthington has plenty of single-family homes but a shortage of living units geared to younger residents and empty-nesters, said Nelson Yoder, the principal in the Development Partners division of Crawford Hoying.

The apartments, some of which may be sold as condominiums, will be geared to everybody, he told the ARB.

"Everybody appreciates being able to walk out their doors and be at Worthington Place," he said.

ARB members said they support the concepts presented but wanted more information, especially about traffic, landscaping and how the overall plan would work.

ARB/MPC member Chris Hermann said he wants the buildings to look like they fit with mall, with streets and walkways. He said he also wants to know how the site would look in five to 10 years.

"I want to create a neighborhood feel," he said.

Traffic could become a problem during weekday evenings, when people who work in offices in the area are leaving. Many who work on Old Wilson Bridge Road cut through the drive that will be shared with those who will live in the larger apartment building. A traffic study is being done and will be reviewed by the ARB/MPC before approvals are granted.

The five-story apartment building will be constructed atop a parking garage, which will open on the southwest side of the building.

The configuration of the building will be a U-shape, with the top of the garage being used as a deck with a pool, a hot tub, a bar, a grill, a fire pit, a seating area and landscaping. Each apartment will have a balcony. Some will overlook the deck, some the street.

The three-story townhouses will be in two separate buildings, with a center court lining up with the north entrance to the mall. The rear of the units will face the mall, with the exception of the easternmost unit, which will face east.

Each unit will have a one-car garage and either an office or storage space on the first floor; a kitchen, living area and a half-bath on the second floor; and two bedrooms, two bathrooms and laundry facilities on the third floor. Each unit will have a balcony and one head-in parking spot on the Old Wilson Bridge Road side.

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