Powell leaders are viewing a new real-estate market analysis as a "piece of the puzzle," rather than a road map for future development.

In February, Powell shared the results of a study performed by Vogt Strategic Insights last year that analyzed housing and commercial needs within the city.

City spokeswoman Megan Canavan said the study cost $27,500. She said that cost was split evenly between the city and the Powell Community Improvement Corp., the city's economic-development arm.

Among a variety of findings, the study broadly recommended more housing diversity, including apartments, because conventional apartments make up a "disproportionately low share" of Powell rental-housing options.

Vogt also recommended specific strategies for eight different commercial and retail areas in the city.

While a recommendation for more apartments may be a source of strife for some in the community, Rocky Kambo, the city's assistant director of development, said the new findings are simply a "piece of the puzzle" and cautioned that following any recommendations too blindly is the wrong approach.

"This study is a black-and-white document," he said. "It's looking at facts and figures, which are very, very important. Good data leads to good outcomes. It's looking at trends and trying to figure out what the needs of the city are and would be.

"But that's not, alone, enough to say that's what we need to do," Kambo said. "We always need to take a look at our other plans and what the residents' wants and desires are. So there's a balance."

Kambo said the study was particularly helpful for the planning department because it allows for a more narrow focus. He said the study allows the city's planners to have a better idea of the strengths and weaknesses of each area in town.

While he said he wasn't surprised by much of the survey, Kambo said there were some areas that went into depth he and others hadn't considered.

For example, he said "one of the more interesting findings" was the area near Sawmill and Seldom Seen roads, where the study recommended some "revitalization," including increased walkability.

"The big reason to do a study like this is to essentially figure out what types of housing you need in the city, and how much of it do you need, and likewise, what types of commercial retail do you need -- how much do you need and what type?" he said. "The big-picture reason for doing something like this is that you want to focus your efforts."

Rob Vogt, market analyst with Vogt Strategic Insights, said that's exactly how his firm hoped its report would be viewed.

He said the company didn't want to "specifically dictate what (Powell) should or should not do," but wanted city leaders to see the study as a resource when they're approached by developers.

"What they were looking for was sort of a guideline to be able to refer back to when presented with different alternatives," Vogt said, "so if something is presented to them, they can make a decision on whether they want it or not, and have that actually rooted in market support."

Perhaps the biggest element of the study was Vogt's finding that Powell is in need of more apartments and other housing aside from traditional single-family homes.

For Kambo, that finding isn't remarkable. Rather than focusing on adding hundreds of new apartments, he said his department sees the report as confirmation that a better mix of housing is needed, whether that means apartments, condos, townhomes or housing geared toward seniors.

"To be a sustainable city, it's advisable to have a variety of housing types," he said, "and being a different housing type doesn't mean it needs to be low-quality or low-value."

Vogt agreed, saying the firm's recommendation matches that of many communities: more housing diversity is needed throughout central Ohio.

"The big picture, even beyond Powell and Delaware County, is the fact that demographics are changing and lifestyles are changing and affordability issues are a challenge," he said. "Unlike a decade or so, there's no unlimited market for $400,000 or $500,000 houses. We're creating households that want to live in a community and work in a community that can only afford a $1,200-a-month rent.

"Those are the kinds of households now that are looking for housing. I think the community kind of needs to come to grips with that: Are we going to be so exclusive that we only house the folks that we believe we need in the community?"

Kambo sees those types of prospective Powell residents in the "continuum" of housing.

The idea, he said, is to provide housing for new Powell residents, houses for those young families to eventually grow into and, eventually, senior housing for when they're older.

But even with that in mind, he said the city is unlikely to take any drastic action regarding housing and isn't making a knee-jerk reaction to the study.

"(The study) doesn't mean we have to -- we don't have to provide that," he said. "But the thinking is that if you have that variety, these options of housing styles and types and values, if something was to happen at a certain point in the market or to certain people in the market, now all of a sudden that can be a big problem for a community that only has one type of housing."

For more information on the study, go to www.cityofpowell.us.

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