Conversion of Buckeye Ranch Equestrian Center into offices, apartments approved

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group
Grove City Hall

A plan to redevelop the former Buckeye Ranch Equestrian Center site is closer to getting on track.

Grove City Council on Sept. 21 voted 3-2 to approve a rezoning request changing the 32-acre site from SD-1 (Educational) to PUD-R (planned unit development-residential) and PUD-C (planned unit development-commercial).

The city’s planning commission Aug. 4 voted to recommend council approve the rezoning.

Developer James Schrim is planning a multiuse development that would include commercial and office uses along Hoover Road and multifamily housing in the site’s other subarea.

Along with medical-office space and a potential day care center, the developer’s goal is for a small coffee shop to open on the area along Hoover Road, attorney Donald Plank said. Plank is representing the developer.

No retail use is planned for the development, he said.

The site is on the west side of Hoover Road and about 1,400 feet north of London Groveport Road.

Council members Christine Houk and Ted Berry voted against the rezoning.

Both Houk and Berry said they had no problem with the commercial portion of the proposed development but the multi-family residential portion concerns them.

Since she took office in January 2018, council has approved various development plans that will add a total of 995 multi-family units, Houk said. 

About 45% of those units are either age-restricted or targeted, she said.

“At which point in time have we tipped the scales and we’ve got too much multi-family housing and not the demand to go with it,” Houk said.

An increasing number of people are working from home, especially with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Berry said.

“People need green space. They need open space. They need places to work inside their houses and apartments,” he said. “Two-bedroom, one-bedroom apartments are not cutting it at this point.”

The project at the Buckeye Ranch site would offer workplace housing, but not for people working in their residences, Councilman Roby Schottke said. 

The apartment units would serve people working at the nearby Mount Carmel Grove City hospital, he said.

Those employees would be cafeteria workers or those who help care for patients, not doctors, Schottke said.

Mount Carmel employees are among the main target audience for the multi-family housing, Plank said.

“We don’t see them as people who will be taking advantage of working at home,” he said. “They are going to have to get out and go to the hospital (to work).”

Grove City has an occupancy rate for its current stock of apartments that is about 98%, Plank said, “so there is a demand for (these apartments).”

As part of its analysis of the proposed project, the city’s development department staff examined the central Ohio apartment market, development director Kyle Rauch said.

“Looking at the trends in other communities, we found Grove City is right in line with the other communities,” he said. 

“We are not oversaturated in terms of comparison with other communities. Each community is experiencing this with the changing demographics and changing trends of what people want in housing.”

If this development would proceed, combined with another apartment complex located nearby, there would be hundreds of apartment dwellers with no place for recreation within walking distance, Berry said.

A 20-acre parcel on the south side of Mount Carmel Drive that was transferred to the city as part of the hospital project could be used as parkland and offer recreational space for nearby residents, Rauch said.

With council’s approval of the rezoning, the next step will be the consideration of a development plan for the project, Schottke said.