Downtown apartments to receive $5.8 million in city funds

A tiny sliver of property in downtown Columbus would be turned into an apartment building with first floor commercial space after $5.8 million in funding for the project was approved by the Columbus Redevelopment Commission this week.

The narrow, empty lot is beside the Cummins Parking Garage on Washington Street and is owned by Cummins. It has gone through several rounds of attempted development over the years. Flaherty & Collins of Indianapolis are planning to construct an apartment complex on the site, with about 50 apartments and about 10,000 square feet of commercial space available on the first floor. The apartments are expected to rent for local market rates, in the neighborhood of $1,300 a month according to the developer.

Flaherty & Collins plan to spend about $11 million for the project, but are turning to the city for another $5.8 million in financing to make the project work. Under the proposal approved by the Redevelopment Commission on Monday, the city would provide the funding from the cash reserves in its central tax increment financing district, which includes the downtown area. It would be in the form of a forgivable loan to the developer.

Several residents spoke out against the project, with concerns about why the city is subsidizing a higher-end apartment building, when there is such a need for affordable, low-income housing in the city. Cindy Frey with the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce. Ike DeClue with the Office of Downtown Development and Columbus City Councilman and downtown business owner Tom Dell all spoke in favor of the development. Jim Schacht with Cummins also spoke in favor of the project, saying that Cummins would be helping with the design of the building.

Because the spending is more than the $500,000 limit set for the commission, the plan must be approved by Columbus City Council and is expected to be heard by the council on Dec. 5th.

Photo courtesy of Hadley Fruits for Landmark Columbus Foundation.