Bexley: Reviews to continue for Cassady, East Livingston developments

Chris Bournea
ThisWeek
City of Bexley

New mixed-used developments planned for Cassady Avenue in north Bexley and East Livingston Avenue in south Bexley passed an initial review by the city’s Architectural Review Board (ARB) on Jan. 14 and is scheduled to be taken up by the Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning (BZAP) on Jan. 28.    

Officials announced Dec. 21 that the Bexley Community Improvement Corp., the city’s nonprofit development entity, and The Community Builders, a national nonprofit housing developer, want to build mixed-use residential and commercial developments at 420 N. Cassady Ave. and 2300 E. Livingston Ave.

The developments are designed to include two, three-story buildings that will include 43 residential apartments ranging in size from one to three bedrooms.    

With a range of rents for different income levels, the developments are part of an effort the city has been working on since 2018 when the CIC contracted with TCB to bring more affordable housing options to Bexley, Mayor Ben Kessler said during Bexley City Council’s first meeting of 2021 on Jan. 12.    

“This is about a vision that embraces affordability across the spectrum of residents that would not necessarily traditionally have access to Bexley,” he said. “This is part of a much larger picture and a conversation that’s happening all throughout the community of central Ohio and all throughout the country as we all struggle with ways to make sure that we are being as inclusive as possible and that we are being as nondiscriminatory as possible in our housing.”   

“The Bexley Community Improvement Corp. has had a plan for mixed-income, multifamily (developments) for years,” CIC member Nate Green said. “This project with The Community Builders, and in particular, with 420 N. Cassady, is an outgrowth of those plans to provide mixed-income housing in the city and provide more opportunities for all of our residents.”   

Kessler said offering more affordable housing options dovetails with legislation City Council passed last year banning landlords from discriminating against potential tenants based on their sources of income, including federal housing vouchers.    

“It’s part of a multi-pronged process to make sure that we can ethically redevelop an environmentally impacted area of our city in a way that provides dignity and a wealth of different housing options to our residents,” he said.   

The proposed developments must first be approved by the city’s planning and zoning boards. At the ARB’s Jan. 14 meeting, several residents expressed concerns that the developments could cause congestion, negatively impact neighborhood aesthetics and block current residents’ views from their windows and access to sunlight because of the scale of the planned buildings. 

ARB member Larry Helman said the proposed developments could offer alternatives for empty-nesters and others who want to remain in Bexley but can’t afford or maintain the upkeep on stand-alone homes. 

“I’d like to be able to stay in this community, and yet I can’t stay in a 2,800 square-foot house,” said Helman, who added that he’s lived in Bexley for 45 years. “We maybe need to think about options for folks so that we don’t have to move out of the community. We can stay in.”   

ARB Chairperson Suzanne Toney said the proposed developments eventually will return to the ARB for final review after BZAP’s review Jan. 28, which will give residents two additional opportunities to voice their views about the developments.    

“We would welcome all of you to come back and stay with us as these projects develop,” Toney told residents who testified at the ARB meeting.  

BZAP also is scheduled to hear testimony from the developers and residents who live within a 200-foot radius of the proposed developments at 6 p.m. Jan. 28. The BZAP meeting is scheduled to be held virtually at the city’s website, bexley.org. 

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