An apartment complex at the Graceland Shopping Center first announced more than three years ago has broken ground.

Work on Graceland Flats, a 180-unit apartment community, is underway at the southwest corner of the shopping center, between Kroger and Kenney Park.

Real estate company Casto is developing the $30 million project, along with nonprofit organization Homeport.

Financing for the project is supported by the Federal Housing Administration's construction-loan program and the Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County.

Casto announced its intent to develop the property in 2016. Because the development did not need to be presented to the Clintonville Area Commission, its members were uncertain as to when the project would begin, if ever.

The partners are calling the development a "workforce housing community," according to a news release. Half of Graceland Flats' units are to be rented to individuals and families whose incomes fall in the range of 80% to 100% of the Area Median Income, according to Casto spokeswoman Natalie Smith.

"We believe Graceland Flats will help address Columbus' need for workforce housing in a unique and innovative structure," said Brent Sobczak, president of CASTO Communities, in a news release. "This financing model has the potential to be replicated across the Columbus market."

"Homeport is pleased to partner with Casto in addressing the affordable workforce housing shortfall facing central Ohio," Homeport president and CEO Bruce Luecke said in the release.

The property will offer one- and two-bedroom apartments in six 3-story structures; amenities will include a pool, outdoor fireplace and bike storage, according to the release.

While the project itself did not require CAC approval, the developers did bring a pair of variance requests for signs to the CAC at its Dec. 5 meeting. One was approved; the other was rejected.

CAC chairwoman B.J. White said she wished the developers had been more open in their communication with local leaders, but said now that the project is underway, she anticipates a positive impact on the community.

"This is the only Homeport project in Clintonville, but I talked to representatives of other commissions in the city who have worked with them and all reported a positive experience," she said.

Smith said Casto anticipates completion of the project in spring 2021.