The Worthington Municipal Planning Commission approved revised plans for the Worthington Place Apartments on July 25.

The Worthington Municipal Planning Commission approved revised plans for the Worthington Place Apartments on July 25.

The new plans reflect nearly 40 changes to the plans approved last spring, but most involve details the commission had little problem in accepting.

Nelson Yoder of developers Crawford Hoying said construction would begin in August on the mixed-use project at the Shops at Worthington Place.

Two buildings are planned. The larger one, which will face West Wilson Bridge Road on the old James Tavern site, will include approximately 23,000 square feet of Class A office space on the first floor, with about 140 living units on five additional floors.

The second, 60-unit, four-story apartment building is planned for the parking lot at the northwest corner of the mall.

The plans underwent intense scrutiny from the MPC and Architectural Review Board for many months before being approved last spring. Commissioners said they were concerned that the developers might want to make changes as the project progresses, substituting less expensive materials and amenities to save money, for example.

When city planning coordinator Lynda Bitar reviewed revised construction documents and found changes that weren't in conformance with the approved plans, she brought the revisions back to MPC for review.

A change that caught the attention of MPC was the removal of decorative paving at pedestrian crossings that would connect the apartments and offices with the mall.

"I think you lose the atmosphere of walkability by taking that away," ARB member Jo Rodgers said.

Other changes include the removal of the entrance to the smaller apartment building from Old Wilson Bridge Road; the removal of gates into the parking area of that building; and several changes to the design of balconies and windows.

The landscape screening promised to Ville Charmante will be done by the condominium complex's own landscapers via $10,000 to be donated by Crawford Hoying. Ville Charmante is the condominium complex directly across West Wilson Bridge Road from the proposed apartment/office building.

Commissioner James Sauer seemed most concerned about the changes before MPC. He said the developers were "downgrading the project."

"It's too important a project in this community to be skimped upon, and I see that happening," Sauer said.

Yoder denied the accusation, saying changes in plans occur naturally as the process proceeds.

"What you're seeing here is the same or better than what you saw four months ago," he said.