Stafford Village senior-housing redevelopment approved in Worthington

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
The redevelopment of National Church Residences' Stafford Village, seen here at East Stafford Avenue and Hartford Street on Feb. 20, will move forward after receiving approval from the Worthington Architecture Review Board and Municipal Planning Commission on June 23. Seven 1-story apartment structures on 3 acres will be replaced by an 85-unit building, according to the plans.

National Church Residences has been given the green light to build 86 senior-housing units as part of the Stafford Village redevelopment project in Worthington.

The Worthington Architectural Review Board and Municipal Planning Commission on June 23 separately voted in favor of the company’s reimagined Stafford Village on the northeast corner of East Stafford Avenue and Hartford Street.

The ARB voted 5-2, with Dave Foust and Rick Schuster dissenting, on allowing demolition of properties and new construction.

The MPC voted 4-1, with Foust casting the no vote, on combining the properties and the final planned-unit-development plan.

Lee Brown, director of planning and building for the city, said after months of negotiations, he is pleased with the end result.

“I think it will be a great addition to our senior community,” Brown said. “And it’s (in line) with what (Worthington City) Council approved and wanted.”

The plan is to replace seven 1-story apartment structures on approximately 3 acres at the site, according to the project description on an application previously submitted to the city.

The Stafford Village apartments were constructed in the 1970s at 814 Hartford St. in conjunction with Worthington Presbyterian Church. In 2016, National Church Residences acquired the portion the church owned.

Construction of the new 85-unit building, which will vary in height at two and three stories tall, and the renovation of a single-family cottage on the grounds are expected to begin next year and take 18 months to complete, said George Tabit, vice president of senior-housing development for National Church Residences.

“I think what we know is the senior population across the country is growing at an exponential rate,” Tabit said. “Worthington is no exception to that trend.”

The vote came after Worthington City Council’s decision in February to change the zoning designation from low-density residential, one- and two-family residential and low-density apartment to a PUD, which, officials have said, would give the city more control over the land.

The other legislative move by council in February allowed City Manager Matt Greeson to enter an agreement with the nonprofit National Church Residences for a guarantee of creating 34 “affordable” units with the remainder at “market rate” for a term of 30 years.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines an “affordable dwelling” as one that a household can obtain for 30% or less of its income.

Other parts of the legislation included reducing the tree-replacement fee in connection with the development and creating a tax-increment-financing agreement, officials said at the time.

“Nothing’s changed so much (on the final design), but we’ve added more detail,” Tabit said.

National Church Residences operates an additional 31 senior residential units on the same block but separate from the new development,” he said.

“We will continue to operate those as affordable housing,” Tabit said.

“This is truly a community project,” said Cindy Young, vice president of marketing and sales for National Church Residences. “We are thrilled with the collaborative way community leaders have worked with us throughout the process.

“We are also extremely grateful for the show of grassroots support by Worthington residents that has enabled this project to come to life. In the end, we will have a vibrant senior neighborhood where more Worthington seniors can remain in the community they love for many years to come.”

The project has been in the works for some time. Details started to emerge in late 2018, and the initial plans were tabled in February 2019 at the request of the developer for more time to work with the community.

National Church Residences’ plans came back into focus in late 2019, leading to eventual approvals in early 2020 from the MPC and City Council.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary