Residents who previously were opposed to plans for a second hotel and mixed-use project along West Lane Avenue and into the College Hill neighborhood are waiting for the results of a traffic-impact study to determine if they'll challenge the proposal on the November ballot.
On June 11, Upper Arlington City Council unanimously approved a rezoning for 2492, 2500 and 2516 Chester Road, as well as 2487, 2495 and 2505 Westmont Boulevard to allow for the construction of a five-story mixed-use building with a parking garage along West Lane Avenue.
That approval, in addition to a seemingly new perspective from residents who had opposed earlier plans for the project, appears to pave the way for a five-story, 116-room Marriott TownePlace Suites to be built on West Lane Avenue, and two condominium buildings to be constructed along Westmont Boulevard.
Phase two of the project also would include a five-story mixed-use building that would contain a ground-floor J. Liu-owned restaurant and commercial space, with office uses proposed for the second floor and 121 apartments on the next three stories.
Additionally, a three-level, 282-space parking garage is proposed in the middle of the building, wrapped by 10 two-story townhomes.
The proposal would require the demolition of an existing commercial building at 1640-50 W. Lane Ave. as well as single-family homes at 2506, 2488 and 2480 Westmont Blvd.
Three homes at 1690, 1678 and 1670 W. Lane Ave. also would go, as would the southernmost three homes at 2500, 2492 and 2480 Chester Road.
However, houses previously eyed for demolition at 2516 Chester Road and 2512 Westmont Blvd. will be renovated and remain single-family homes.
The change in plans, in addition to a new developer in Upper Arlington-based Crawford Hoying Development, which is buying interests in the project from its original developer, Shanghai Enterprises LLC., have satisfied a group of residents who collected more than 2,200 signatures last year to put a referendum on this November's ballot to overturn the rezoning.
If that rezoning were to be overturned at the ballot, it would force Crawford Hoying to go back to the drawing board with new development plans or abandon the project.
Amanda Hicks, a Westmont Boulevard resident who played a large role in collecting the referendum signatures, said residents are pleased with the new direction of the project but are waiting to see the results of a traffic-impact study before they decide whether to put the referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot.
"As of now, the referendum is still in place," Hicks said. "We are having a neighborhood discussion on that subject.
"Traffic has always been one of the biggest concerns. So we need assurance that this development will not negatively impact our neighborhood or the community as a whole. Once we have clarity on traffic impact, a decision can be made."
During the June 11 meeting, Hicks said she was "in full support of this new development plan," and was pleased that the referendum effort -- which effectively put the previous proposal on hold until the November vote -- gave time for residents and the new developer to compromise and collaborate on a more palatable plan.
"I'm just really, really proud of where we have come from a year ago," she told City Council members. "I really hope that this will be a lesson to the city. It's important that residents have a seat at the table, that we have weight in decisions that happen in our community."
Other residents echoed those sentiments, while still others cited concerns about how the Crawford Hoying project and a separate proposal to build the Arlington Gateway -- an 11-story mixed-use project that would include 218 high-end apartments and more than 132,000 square feet of professional office space at the corner of Lane Avenue and North Star Road -- would affect traffic flow and nearby homes.
"You guys are considering razing houses that are in high demand," College Hill resident Jacki Carron said.
Carron said she also is concerned that the rezoning would create higher building densities in a residential area that she believes should be protected.
"That kind of densification is going to permanently change a residential neighborhood of our community, College Hill," she said. "I feel very strongly that council and (the Upper Arlington Board of Zoning and Planning) needs to protect all residential neighborhoods in our community."
Council members Carolyn Casper, Brian Close and Michele Hoyle each said they worried about approving a rezoning before the city had finalized traffic-impact studies that would show how much more traffic the Crawford Hoying and Gateway projects would bring to the Lane Avenue corridor.
However, they agreed to approve it with assurances from City Attorney Jeanine Hummer and Senior Planning Officer Chad Gibson that conditions will be placed on the rezoning that meet traffic standards of the city's Engineering and Community Development divisions.
Gibson said Crawford Hoying has hired a consultant to perform a traffic study that will be subject to review and recommendations from the city's Engineering Division and residents' own, third-party traffic consultant.
"So you have three separate entities reviewing this data and this information to ensure that there will not be a safety or traffic hazard as a result of this project," Gibson said. "You have lots of good things in place to prevent those issues.
"We are taking into account everything that's going on in the corridor. ... I would argue that this study will actually effectuate a safer corridor."
Hicks said the three entities are reviewing traffic-impact studies, and she's hopeful the data will be acceptable to all interested parties.
"We have a third-party consultant reviewing the data and if they feel confident with the results and provide assurance that this project will be successful for our neighborhood and community, the neighborhood will be pleased," she said.