Over the past year or so, Grove City Council has been presented with residential development proposals that often have raised attendance figures at council meetings -- along with concerns those attendees have wanted to share with officials.

"We've been getting questions during council meetings, and before and after, pertaining to developments and trends we're facing as a community," development director Kyle Rauch said.

Community-development manager Kim Shields has spent the past few months delving into the details regarding market demand and changing demographics and how they might be affecting development in Grove City.

Shields presented her findings at the Jan. 6 council meeting.

Overall, Grove City's population is growing and aging, which is affecting the development proposals that are being submitted, she said.

But the amount of development that has occurred over the past decade is not as much as what occurred in the previous decade, Shields said.

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission's estimate for Grove City's 2020 population is just short of 43,000 people, she said.

"That is just about right on track with what we estimated in the Grove City 2050 Community Plan," Shields said.

The projections included in the community plan that council adopted in January 2018 estimate the city's population would total 60,000 by 2050 if Grove City expands into its entire planning area, "which isn't feasible," she said.

The plan projects a population of 48,000 by 2050 based on the city's current boundary.

More importantly, from a development perspective is how the demographics of the city's population is changing, Shields said.

The city's demographics are aging, "and that has had a tremendous impact on the development patterns we are seeing," she said.

Grove City's median age has grown from 35 years in 2000 to 39.8 years in 2019, Shields said. The percentage of residents age 55 and over has increased from 19.3% to 29.9% over the past two decades.

An increase in the median age of five years over two decades "is pretty remarkable," she said.

Residents might think the submission and approval of apartment projects is continual, Shields said.

"We're always getting comments about apartments," she said. "Residents are concerned about the number of apartments."

A breakdown of all the residential development plans and the number of units approved show that "we did a really good job of approving single-family and condo homes," including Pinnacle Club and Meadow Grove Estates in 2004-05, Shields said.

Then the Great Recession hit in 2008, and that, combined with the large inventory of single-family houses that had been approved in 2004-05 meant that "we didn't approve a lot of residential for a long time," she said.

"The community got sort of comfortable building off of Pinnacle Club and Meadow Grove and we are still building off of that," she said.

The number of residential developments approved for about a decade remained low, Shields said.

The Lamplighter Senior Village (for residents 55 years and older) approved in 2012 was the first apartment complex approved in Grove City in 10 years and the Summit Apartments in 2013 was the first traditional (with no age restrictions) apartment project approved in 11 years, she said.

"We don't have a lot of modern multi-family development and there's a big demand for that," Shields said.

The market demand from millennials and baby boomers is changing to more multi-family "and we didn't necessarily have a housing stock to accommodate that growth," she said.

Residential development in Grove City since 2015 has been more diverse, including a greater variety of housing, while in 2004-5 most of the development was single-family, Shields said.

Grove City ranks third among central Ohio communities in the number of new apartment units approved between 2015 and 2019, with just under 1,200, she said. Only Westerville and Dublin have approved more apartment units, she said.

Apartments and multifamily units make up about half of the housing units approved between 2015 and 2019 in Grove City, Shields said.

More development occurred in Grove City between 2000 and 2010 than in the last 10 years, she said.

Grove City's population grew by 8,500, or 31.4%, and the city annexed 2.15 square miles of land during the first decade of the 21st century, Shields said. The number of households increased by 36%.

Between 2010 and 2019 the population grew by 7,191 people, or 19.2%, and the city added 0.9 square miles of land, she said. The number of households increased by 16.1%.

Although some residents might think the city approves any project that is submitted, the reality is that every development proposal goes through a rigorous review process, Shields said.

Applicants submit materials about a month ahead of the planning commission meeting they are scheduled for, she said, and the development staff's review includes input from other city departments as well as the Central Ohio Transit Authority, the Ohio Department of Transportation and Franklin County.

"We've been getting better at getting public notice out" about pending development issues, Rauch said.

That includes putting more signs regarding upcoming meeting and hearing dates on public right of ways and posting more information on the city's website, grovecityohio. gov, including complete application packets, he said.

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