Columbus approves agreement to bring $40 million development

The city of Columbus is formalizing an agreement with a developer for the construction of apartments and an urban grocer next to the Bartholomew County Jail downtown.

Last night Columbus City Council approved the agreement for a $40 million dollar project on Second Street with developer Flaherty & Collins of Indianapolis. The company is proposing to build 200 apartments with 6,000 square feet of community space including swimming pools, bbq areas and leasing space, 400 parking spaces and a 12 thousand to 15 thousand square foot grocery at the property just east of the jail. The project would open in about three years.

In addition to providing the property for the project, the city through the Columbus Redevelopment Commission would guarantee more than $11 million dollars in bonds as the city contribution to the project. However, Mayor Jim Lienhoop pointed out that the bonds would be repaid by the city through property taxes paid by the developer, essentially paying for the financing itself.

The city had originally envisioned a joint project with a hotel conference center across the street in the jail parking lot between Second and Third Streets, but that project with Sprague Developers is on hold until the market for hotel rooms improves.

Council members Elaine Hilber and Grace Kestler questioned the pricing of the apartments in the new development and how that would fit into the housing crunch in the community. Flaherty & Collins representatives said they expected the cost to be similar to the apartments at the Cole. Councilman Frank Miller questioned the uncertainty of the cost to the city for the bonds and Councilman Jerone Wood questioned the damage the new apartments could do to the existing rental market.

Council voted 5-1 to approve the agreement, with Wood voting against the project.