A Columbus developer says he's ready to bring forward plans for a "masterpiece" 11-story project at the corner of Lane Avenue and North Star Road after staving off an appeal from a resident opposed to plans for the Arlington Gateway.
Continental Real Estate Cos. Chairman Frank Kass said the Arlington Gateway would bring 500 to 600 new, "high-paying" jobs to Upper Arlington while helping fund infrastructure improvements in the area of Lane Avenue and North Star Road.
And although it would stand more than twice as tall as the commercial buildings it neighbors and even higher above nearby houses, he said it would be a striking addition to Upper Arlington's southeastern border.
"It's right at the entry, coming in from the west," Kass said. "So it will be a masterpiece."
The project would feature more than 130,000 square feet of office space and is expected to be anchored by a Big Five, publicly traded financial company. It also would bring significant revenue to a city that's landlocked and can't lure companies by offering undeveloped land, Kass said.
"Financially, it's a bonanza to the city," he said.
In addition to office space, the project includes plans for 218 luxury apartments and 14,350 square feet of retail space -- but it isn't a done deal just yet.
It cleared another hurdle July 9 when Upper Arlington City Council voted 6-0 to dismiss an appeal by resident Paul Kreitler, who sought to block the project because of the impact he said it would have on his property and local traffic.
Councilman Brian Close didn't take part in the vote because as an attorney, he has a conflict that prevents him from participating in Gateway decisions.
Kreitler filed his appeal nearly three years after plans for the Gateway project became public. In the time since its initial lead developer, Arcadia Development of Ohio LLC, introduced it, the Gateway proposal has continued to expand in scope.
Originally, a seven-story project was to go in at 1325-1359 W. Lane Ave. with 13,900 square feet of retail and restaurant space on its ground floor, 19,400 square feet of office space on the second floor and 42 luxury apartments and 38 upscale condominiums on its upper four floors.
Those plans called for a 277-space parking garage at the rear of building that would be accessed from Lane and from an alley off North Star Road.
The proposed height of the project was bumped up to nine stories last year when Arcadia added nearly 60,000 square feet of office space to the plans in what they said was a bid to appease city officials who sought more income tax revenue from the Gateway.
In May this year, Arcadia managing partner Scott Patton teamed with Rondar Investment Partners and Continental Real Estate, the latter of which owns Kingsdale Center and which took over as the Gateway's lead developer.
Along with the new partnership came plans to expand the project to the corner of North Star Road.
Its latest iteration now calls for an 11-story development at 1325-97 W. Lane Ave. and 2376 North Star Road that would include an 843-vehicle parking garage.
Kreitler, a Doone Road resident, publicly opposed the latest plans June 4, when the Upper Arlington Board of Zoning and Planning approved a final development plan for the project.
He appealed to City Council July 9 on grounds the project would harm his property directly.
"First off, it provides a visual intrusion to my backyard," Kreitler said. "It provides light pollution at night."
He said the project would lead to an unreasonable influx of traffic on nearby residential streets, and noted the BZAP approved plans for a 152-foot, 10-inch tower component to the Gateway when the maximum height allowed by zoning codes is 96 feet.
Kreitler said city staff and the BZAP have been much more rigid with rules for building single-family houses, including adding around $40,000 worth of costs to the construction of his own house because initial plans exceeded zoning height restrictions by about three feet.
Appeal didn't meet criteria
In rejecting Kreitler's appeal, council members agreed it failed to meet criteria for overturning the BZAP ruling.
Those standards include a requirement an aggrieved party must be located contiguous or adjacent to a proposed development. Kreitler's residence is more than 1,000 feet from the Gateway site.
Councilman Jim Lynch said he sympathized with Kreitler, because he had similar concerns when Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center broke ground in June 2015 for a five-story, 104,000-square-foot outpatient care facility at Kingsdale, roughly 1,000 feet from Lynch's home.
But he said those concerns didn't qualify him as an aggrieved party capable of blocking the development, and he believed Kreitler's arguments also fell short.
"I just don't think I would see myself as an aggrieved party," Lynch said. "I live near a shopping mall. I live near an economic development site. My instincts are that there's no standing here."
Council President Kip Greenhill said council's vote hinged only on Kreitler's standing as it pertained to his rights to appeal the BZAP approval.
"It's not our feelings on the Gateway project," he said.
Although income tax revenues from the project would go to the city of Upper Arlington, its property taxes would be delivered to Columbus City Schools because the proposed site is located inside its district boundaries.
On June 19, the Columbus City Schools Board of Education approved a 30-year, 100 percent tax-increment-financing deal for the project, which is estimated to cost $110 million to construct.
According to Kass, the agreement with Columbus City Schools stipulates an annual $450,000 payment in lieu of taxes for the first 30 years after the Gateway is constructed.
All annual property taxes assessed by the Franklin County Auditor above $450,000 will then go toward the funding of an estimated $4 million in off-site infrastructure for the project, including new sewer lines, water lines, underground utilities and road improvements.
Beginning in the 31st year after the project is completed, 69 percent of the property taxes from the site will go to Columbus City Schools. Kass said estimates for that annual payment are between $1.4 million to $1.5 million.
He reiterated July 9 the project would more than triple the $116,000 in annual tax payments currently going to CCS.
He said the deal with CCS will enable Upper Arlington to issue bonds backed by the balance of the real estate taxes and the income taxes generated from the new development on that corner, the proceeds from which would pay for construction of the estimated $18 million-plus parking garage and the off-site infrastructure.