Whitehall's OK pushes development at Woodcliff Condos site toward reality

KEVIN CORVO
kcorvo@thisweeknews.com
Demolition of the abandoned buildings at the former Woodcliff Condominiums site at the northeast corner of East Broad Street and North Hamilton Road is set to begin early next year as Whitehall plans to develop the tract.

A Florida-based developer is expected to invest around $250 million into a mixed-use development at the northeast corner of East Broad Street and North Hamilton Road in Whitehall, according to city development director Zach Woodruff.

Whitehall City Council on Aug. 4 authorized Mayor Kim Maggard to execute a developer's agreement with Miami-based NR Investments.

The developer's agreement, expected to be finalized by the end of August, will outline the first of three phases of development for the 50-acre parcel, which includes the abandoned Woodcliff Condominiums and the former Four Seasons Golf Center.

The first of three phases will rise on the portion of the parcel closest to East Broad Street and North Hamilton Road, Woodruff said.

The parcel will require rezoning, Woodruff said.

About three months after the developer's agreement is finalized, NR Investments is expected to present a site plan and seek the rezoning necessary for the project to advance, Woodruff said.

The 50-acre site includes 37 areas on which Woodcliff Condominiums sits. Another 13 acres is the former site of Four Seasons Golf Center, 5000 E. Broad St., which had an inflatable dome that housed an indoor driving range.

Four Seasons closed Feb. 28, 2017, after a settlement following a lease dispute. The center had leased land from the city since 2001, but in 2016, the city notified Four Seasons it had missed a renewal deadline and that the lease would expire.

Four Seasons filed a complaint in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, but the case was settled when the city agreed to pay $250,000 to Four Seasons, which agreed to cease operations Feb. 28, 2017, and vacate the property by March 7. An auction later in 2017 disposed of the property at the site.

The city purchased Woodcliff Condominiums, a 317-unit complex, in 2019 for $10.3 million after its multiple owners voted to sell the property to the city following a court order in 2018 that the property be sold.

The property had been the subject of property-code-violation complaints the city filed in the environmental division of Franklin County Municipal Court dating back to 2007.

"The developer's agreement (with NR Investments) will allow the city to recoup the $10 million investment we made to buy the property," Woodruff said.

NR Investments will be the owner and developer of the site, with retail and office uses that will benefit the city, Woodruff said.

"NR is excited to redevelop this 50-acre site in partnership with the city of Whitehall for a number of reasons, not the least of which is because the city shares our vision to use design and place-making to inspire community building," said Terry Wellons, chief operating officer of NR Investments, in March after the city identified the firm as its partner in the endeavor.

Although many details are yet to be put to paper, Woodruff said the development will include anywhere from 600 to 1,000 residential units, of which 20% will be "workforce housing."

Owners or tenants of workforce housing must meet financial requirements, including household income that does not exceed a set limit, Woodruff said.

"Our goal is to create a community with housing for everyone," he said.

The parcel also could include medical offices associated with Mount Carmel East, Woodruff said. The hospital is about 3 miles east of the parcel.

"While we may be a new player in the Columbus region, we bring the experience necessary to make this project unique to the Whitehall community, and we look forward to really showcasing the adjacent 80-acre Community Park," Wellons said in March.

Demolition of the more than 300 vacant units on the 35-acre site is expected to begin in early 2021 and should take four to six months to complete, Woodruff said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo