Gahanna City Council members and representatives of Metropolitan Holdings are scheduled to meet Oct. 28 during council committee to continue hashing out a proposed developer’s agreement that would bring 129 apartments to 2.3 acres on the east and west sides of Mill Street, south of Carpenter Road and at the northern boundary of the Creekside development.
Matt Vekasy, founder and CEO of Metropolitan Holdings, and his team attended an Oct. 14 finance committee meeting that seemed to bring up more questions than answers for at least one council member.
Councilman Stephen Renner said he “isn’t even close” to being comfortable with some costs to the city that are in the proposal, especially contingencies that aren’t capped in connection to right-of-ways.
Vekasy said the contingencies are strictly for anything underground in the right-of-way that his team doesn’t know is there.
“So, if we go out there and start working the right-of-way and we find a utility line that wasn’t identified on any drawing … if there’s something underground that we don’t know of and didn’t have opportunity to do any test borings or anything else like that, that’s strictly there to address those issues,” he said.
Renner said he understands there’s an unknown.
“Because I’m a representative of the city, I am scared out of my mind about that unknown,” he said. “I would definitely still like to see a dollar amount cap so, therefore, we can understand, we can quantify it if something egregious comes to play.”
Renner said he also wants to know how the vacation of North Street would work.
Vekasy provided a written opinion to council from Pete DiSalvo, president of DiSalvo Development Advisors, to address why he isn’t including retail in the project.
“It is our opinion that the site is not a viable candidate for retail development primarily because it lacks enough market exposure,” DiSalvo wrote.
DiSalvo said a key reason the site has limited market exposure is because the average daily traffic counts along Mill Street are much lower than other commercial corridors throughout Gahanna.
“In summary, the reason a retailer would locate on Mill Street is to benefit from pedestrian traffic generated from Creekside and the downtown,” DiSalvo said. “In our opinion, the Mill site is not within the core pedestrian traffic area. Furthermore, we believe the greatest potential for new retail development exists south of Walnut Street.”
Vekasy said there would be townhouses that engage the street and although they’re not retail, they would have front doors leading to the street.
From a design and new urbanism perspective, he said, it offers a great transition from the townhouse activities, including a fitness center, into the commercial heading south.
He said there would be 129 total units, with 33 having two bedrooms and 96 having one bedroom for a total of 162 total bedrooms.
Council member Michael Schnetzer asked how many of the residents would likely have children.
Vekasy said it isn’t likely residents would have children, especially with one-bedroom units, but he anticipates couples may want to rent the townhouses and that prompted a request for more parking spots in the Creekside garage.
Another modification in the developer’s agreement calls for the leasing of 50 parking spaces from the underground parking garage at Creekside for residents’ use.
City attorney Shane Ewald said the parking needs to be addressed, because he doesn’t think those spots will be available.
“We were told by bond counsel that you can’t exclude parking from the public use because of the way it was bonded,” he said. “We would need to see if that would be available.”
Council also requested Metropolitan Holdings provide more information about traffic counts, a cost estimate on the Carpenter Road utility relocation and an estimated cost to bury utilities where construction would begin.