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City Council to Weigh in on Plan for King Avenue Apartments

Brent Warren Brent Warren City Council to Weigh in on Plan for King Avenue ApartmentsAll renderings via BBCO Design.
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City Council will soon decide the fate of a plan by JDS Companies to build 48 townhomes and flats on King Avenue in the University District at the site formerly home to the Church of the Nazarene. The plan has run into resistance from neighborhood groups concerned about its size, unit-mix, and plan for parking.

Although the University Area Review Board (UARB) voted in favor of the development, the University Area Commission (UAC) voted 16 to 1 against the requested zoning variances at its April meeting. Both groups are advisory to City Council, which will make the final decision at the July 14th zoning committee meeting.

Ethan Hansen of the Dennison Place Neighborhood Association said that his group – which went door to door in the area to solicit feedback on the proposal – has heard complaints from a wide range of residents.

“We’ve found that whether they are students, graduate students, retirees, or working professionals,” he said, “they all want to see a greener, lower-density development that blends with the neighborhood, encourages a diversity of tenants, and helps sustain owner-occupancy levels in the neighborhood.”

Hansen also said he laments what he sees as a drop-off in communication from the developer; after some initial meetings last summer, including two design charrettes, efforts to gather feedback from the neighborhood seemed to stop.

JDS Companies president Dan Schmidt said that they worked hard to incorporate ideas generated in those charrettes.

“We redesigned, based on both the neighborhood meetings and the UARB meeting, seven different times,” he said, adding that at the end of that process his team decided to proceed with what they believed was a good design, even if it still did not meet the approval of everyone in the neighborhood.

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Schmidt points to the reduced unit count (it went from 72 in the initial design to 48), an improved parking ratio (104 spaces for 150 beds, which will not require a variance), and the revised design featuring two-story townhomes over garden apartments (with no porches or balconies), as evidence of their effort to take the concerns of the neighborhood into account.

The Dennison Place group, though, still has concerns, and has been gathering signatures from those opposed to the development to present to council in advance of the zoning meeting.

One of the big concerns is the unit-mix – 23 two-bedroom units, 24 four-bedroom units, and two six-bedroom corner units – which some in the neighborhood think will be attractive exclusively to undergrads. Another concern is the how the parking is arranged – many of the lots are double stacked – which neighbors fear could lead to some residents parking on the street.

Schmidt said that they have used that style of parking in their other apartment developments without issue. He also thinks that the location and quality of the project will attract a wide range of residents.

“We’re really excited about it,” he said, “it’s a great design, and it’s so close to the hospital, near all the grad schools…you can walk to everything.”

For more updates and discussion on this project, CLICK HERE to visit our Messageboard.

All renderings by BBCO Design.

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60 Responses to City Council to Weigh in on Plan for King Avenue Apartments

  1. Walker Evans
    Walker Evans July 10, 2014 9:38 am at 9:38 am

    Just my 2 cents, but seems kind of ridiculous for the University Area Commission based on density issues. It’s the densest, most walkable area in the entire region. This is new-build high-quality housing (similar to Norwich Flats and View on High, both under construction) that is likely going to be priced higher than your average run-down 70s-era campus housing, which will attract grad students and medical students and not party-til-you-puke undergrads.

    Speaking of average run-down 70s-era campus housing, this area is full of that kind of stucco stuff. Having a BBCO-Designed modern project like this one is really upping the bar in the middle of a sea of eyesores.

    It’s unfortunate that the density has already been reduced, and the covered parking turned into a surface lot. Hopefully City Council doesn’t reject this plan in favor of keeping it as an abandoned church for the indefinite future.

  2. Jefe
    Jefe July 10, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am

    ugh. N.I.M.B.Y.

    an enormous part of the desirability of the neighborhood is its proximity to OSU…and then some folks get mad at the presence of actual students?

  3. jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am

    This is why I keep saying that the UAC is probably one of the most anti-density commissions in the entire city. They just don’t seem to get what urbanity means or why it’s in high demand. Of course there will be residents that object to these projects. They *always* do when they see change in the neighborhood. Has there ever really been a project anywhere where neighbors weren’t illogically concerned about things like too many people, too many cars, not enough parking, etc? The UAC belongs in New Albany or Pickerington, and has no business having a say over one of Columbus’ most dense and growing neighborhoods. They will only serve to hold development back and keep ruining good projects. Luckily, the city has final say, but this project was far better at 72 units than it is now. And with the giant surface lot… just awful.

  4. Walker Evans
    Walker Evans July 10, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am

    More info from the Short North Civic Association:

    The  Short  North  has  long  considered  the  northern  boundary  of  the  neighborhood  to  be  King Avenue  and  more  specifically  the  alley  north  of  King  Avenue.    The  northern  section  of  the  Short   North  overlaps  with  the  University  Area  and  is  known  as  Dennison  Place  east  of  Neil  Avenue  and   The  Circles  west  of  Neil  Avenue.    The  neighborhood  of  mostly  single  family  and  small   multi-­family  buildings  has  a  diverse  population  including  homeowners,  renters,  families,  and   students.    The  area  has  seen  decades  of  continual  improvement  and  rising  property  values  as   new,  energetic  and  committed  owners  have  renovated  the  area.    The  Short  North  has  a  distinctly   different  feel  than  South  Campus  immediately  to  the  north.    

      A  new  development  on  the  site  of  the    Church  Of  The  Nazarene  property  at  160  King  Avenue  has   been  proposed.    While  we  fully  support  the  appropriate  development  of  this  currently   underutilized  property,  the  proposed  development  is  clearly  a  “campus  style”  development  with  a   majority  of  the  bedrooms  located  in  4  to  6  bedroom  units  and  is  not  appropriate  for  the   neighborhood.    
     
    We  had  been  working  with  the  developer  on  creating  an  appropriate  development  that  would  be   satisfactory  to  both  sides,  however  communication  has  stopped  and  it  appears  that  the   developer  is  intent  on  moving  forward  with  this  inappropriate  design  despite  the  concerns  of  the   neighborhood,  the  Short  North  Civic  Association,  and  the  University  Area  Commission  (which   voted  against  the  project  16-­1).  
     
    Our  concerns  are  as  follows:  
     
    Inconsistent  with  proposed  University  District  Plan   The  current  draft  of  the  upcoming  University  District  Plan  would  keep  both  sides  of  King  Avenue   at  Lower  Intensity  Residential  with  an  allowable  FAR  of  0.4.  This  recommendation  is  fully   supported  by  city  staff.    This  project  proposes  an  FAR  of  0.9  for  the  parcels  along  King  Avenue,   is  incompatible  with  this  plan  and  will  set  the  wrong  standard  for  future  development.  
     
    Project  size     Nearly  70%  of  the  property  is  zoned  R-­4  with  an  allowable  Floor  Area  Ratio  of  0.4.  The  applicant   is  seeking  a  variance  to  permit  an  FAR  of  0.9,  allowing  a  150  bed,  48  unit  building.  The  sought  for   FAR  is  more  than  50%  above  the  average  FAR  on  the  street  of  0.57.  Furthermore,  the  average   unit  count  on  King  Avenue  is  3.7  and  the  project  exceeds  the  next  largest  unit  count  on  the  street   by  39  units.    
     
    Green  space  and  Environment  

    In  light  of  the  City’s  new  commitment  to  reducing  storm  water  runoff,  the  project  gives  insufficient   attention  to  green  space  and  trees,  exacerbating  issues  of  stormwater  runoff.  The  applicant  is   seeking  a  variance  to  further  reduce  tree  coverage  by  50%  below  what  is  called  for  in  City  code.    

    Resident  mix  and  effect  on  the  neighborhood  

    With  69%  of  bedrooms  located  in  4  and  6  bedroom  units,  this  project  is  attractive  to  few  but   undergraduate  students.  While  we  are  proud  to  have  undergraduate  neighbors,  nowhere  else  in   our  neighborhood  has  such  a  high  concentration  of  undergraduate  residents.  Our  neighborhood   has  thrived  on  a  balance  of  homeowners  and  renters,  professionals,  graduate  students  and   undergraduate  students.  This  project  contains  no  owner-­occupant  units  and  the  unit  mix  is  highly   undesirable  to  professionals,  retirees,  or  graduate  students.  
     
    Parking   While  the  project  meets  requirements  for  parking,  this  number  is  met  with  “stacked”  or  “tandem”   parking.  We  believe  that  such  an  arrangement  does  not  result  in  maximal  parking  use  and  leads   to  increased  pressure  on  neighborhood  parking.  Furthermore,  the  project  far  exceeds  allowable   R-­4  density  yet  relies  on  lower  parking  standards  present  in  R4  zoning  to  achieve  what  we   believe  to  be  artificially  low  numbers  for  required  parking.  This  project  falls  short  of  1:1  parity   between  parking  spaces  and  bedrooms  by  44  spaces.  
     
    Future  demand   With  the  upcoming  sophomore  rule  removing  the  sophomore  OSU  class  out  of  the  surrounding   neighborhoods  we  anticipate  softening  demand  for  future  off  campus  housing.  While  this  is  a   boon  to  the  overburdened  University  Area  neighborhoods,  this  raises  significant  issues  for  large,   off  campus  housing  projects  that  are  unattractive  to  residents  besides  undergraduates.  We  have   concerns  over  the  future  viability  of  this  project  and  what  this  will  mean  for  our  neighborhood.  
     
    We  look  forward  to  an  appropriate  development  plan  that  works  with  the  neighborhood  and   enhances  the  Short  North.    
     
     

  5. mbeaumont July 10, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am

    +1 to all of the above.

  6. jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am

    They could’ve summed that all up to:

    We don’t want students living in our neighborhood and we’d rather have a parking lot there.
    We simply don’t get why more people should be accommodated into our desirable neighborhood, and seek to limit the progress we claimed to support in the first few paragraphs.

    Signed: Out of Touch

  7. elduderino July 10, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm

    One of the problems here is that density is viewed as an objective good. I am a strong proponent of urbanism, but that doesn’t mean that any project that is dense is automatically good.

    When looking at density, you need to consider the location and the type of project, not just the fact that a project is dense. Dennison Place is 20% homeowners and has plenty of students, it is also shared by the Short North and the University Area and has common identity and concerns with both.

    If people didn’t want to live next to students, they wouldn’t have moved to Dennison Place. What people don’t want is for King Ave to turn into Chittenden. A fully furnished building that is ~70% 4 and 6 bedrooms resembles a dorm more than an apartment building and is fundamentally incompatible with anything BUT undergraduate student housing – that is the problem. Look at the neighborhood north of King and compare it with the neighborhood south of King – they are fundamentally different. South Campus used to have owner occupants, it is now close to 3%, driven away by large scale, bad student development. The sophomore rule is a good thing, but building single use housing unattractive to anyone but undergraduates after 1/3 of the off campus student body moves on campus risks burdening the neighborhood with a white elephant. As far as the price points – they are very much a double edged sword. Many if not most graduate students cannot afford living in an apartment where bedrooms start at $800 and even if they could, wouldn’t choose to live in and among 4 bedroom apartments.

    The University Area is the densest neighborhood in all of Ohio and I think this motivates the UAC quite a bit. The area has seen the flight of owner occupants to the suburbs over the decades coupled with illegal rooming houses, cheap renovations, bad landlords and bad developments that have arrived over time. The history of the neighborhood and the forces that started it and the forces in play today make the UAC and the UAC’s motivations a little different than commissions in many other neighborhoods. If someone wanted to build Neighborhood Launch or the Wood building in the University Area, I think the UAC would be very enthusiastic, unfortunately what is proposed are buildings like The East Village and The Summit which weren’t that good when they were built and are aging rapidly.

    There are plenty of dense projects approved by the UAC – the UAC wants density in the appropriate places – the High Street and Lane corridors and core campus east of High. This is exactly what the City is calling for in the upcoming University District Plan. What the city is calling for in the most recent draft of the upcoming plan is a density on King Ave less than half of what is being proposed.

  8. Jason Powell
    Jason Powell July 10, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm

    It seems that almost every single development proposed for URBAN Columbus is scoffed at by residents and commissions simply because it is too dense. Am I missing something here? Is this not URBAN Columbus. Are we not as a city trying to move towards a more walkable and bikeable neighborhood layout. Both require density yet we keep shrinking or denying every project that comes to the table. While I do agree that this project should not include 4 and 6 bedroom apts, I have no problem with the overall density of it.

    This may be a little brash, but the commissions (but not every member) of IV, VV, GV, BD, Clintonville, UAC, OTE, KL, Franklinton, North Market area, etc, etc, need a reality check. When these few vacant sites are developed, that’s it. They are gone – at least for a few decades. Do it right the first time. Or, let’s just keep being ordinary, doing business as usual and holding the city back.

  9. Coy
    Coy July 10, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm

    Just another bit of info… in the Statement of Hardship, the applicant specifically mentions graduate students as a primary target market for this housing.

    When asked numerous times at UAC if the developer had contacted any graduate students to see if this was the sort of arrangement they would want to live in, they had not.
    When offered on more than one occasion to meet with grad students at OSU, the developer failed to accept the invite.

    4 and 6 bedroom dense arrangements do not generally fit the typical grad student living situation.

  10. drew
    drew July 10, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm

    +1 to everything elduderino said, particularly this:

    “What people don’t want is for King Ave to turn into Chittenden.”

    It’s simple, really – a high enough concentration of undergrads changes the complexion of a neighborhood. It’s not about being anti-density, it’s about being pro-livability. A residential neighborhood with too many undergrads is a residential neighborhood that nobody other than undergrads will want to live in, and imposing that on a neighborhood is worth the very careful consideration that the Short North Civic Association and others have been giving it.

    Call it NIMBY if you want, but if we’re all being honest nobody really wants a bunch of undergrads from a notorious party school in their back yard.

  11. jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 1:01 pm at 1:01 pm

    Elduderino… The problem with this is that when it comes to the UAC, there is no such thing as an appropriate location for density. They’ve had the exact same reaction to projects directly on High Street, where density is entirely appropriate and should be actively encouraged. The fact of the matter is that they simply don’t like density anywhere.

    How would this project have helped make King into Chitenden? Chittenden is lined with frat houses and 1960s apartment buildings. This project is neither. Further, if the people of Dennison Place truly don’t object with living next to students, why would they object to part of this project being marketable to students? Those two statements are entirely contradictory.

    Also, after reading the objections list above, the student issue was just one of many. The UAC could’ve just objected to the student-marketable apartment portion of the project and proposed that that be eliminated or reduced as a % of the overall project. But they also objected to the height, # of units altogether, the fact that there weren’t 30 parking spots for every unit, etc. They purposely have made the project as insignificant as possible, while simultaneously making it the least urban. This was not just about the student element for them. This was about the fact that they consistently hold the view that density in any form, in any location, is not compatible with how they view the future of these neighborhoods. This is the exact opposite viewpoint they should have given the characteristics of what already exists in the neighborhoods as well as the very high demand for urban living.

  12. jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 1:04 pm at 1:04 pm

    Drew and Coy… So why didn’t the commission just ask that the student portion of the project be eliminated? If I was a developer and was forced to redesign my project over and over and over again, which is what happened here, I would probably stop fully cooperating as well.

    The UAC clearly wanted the entire project killed, not just the student element.

    • Coy
      Coy July 10, 2014 1:47 pm at 1:47 pm

      That’s not really the purview of the UAC, is why. They have to react to what they are given. I don’t get the impression they want ti “kill” anything.

      Basically, the developer got every indication that their claim that this was for grad/prof students was a misdirect and everyone knows it, but they are sticking to their guns. That’s just bad business, not UAC’s fault.

      Frankly, I like the look of it, but the # of bedrooms is just too many and the parking situation is a hot mess.
      Like someone said above, all that really matters is getting it right the first time. This could be a fabulous location for grad students, professionals, families, even (gasp!) undergrads… just has to be a better fit than what they are proposing.

  13. elduderino July 10, 2014 1:14 pm at 1:14 pm

    @JasonPowell – I agree with you (mostly). I think it is absolutely important to develop something right and I think there are a lot of good examples of that happening.

    One of the things overlooked here is how do you define density? Do you mean people density or building density? They are very different concepts.

    I think we are all trying to move to a more bikeable/walkable City, but it is crucial to preserve the characters of the currently walkable neighborhoods we like so much. There is something between a 100 story tower and a suburban tract house that belongs on the site and nobody is seriously claiming that the current use is it. A project should generally match the neighborhood it sits in. Nobody is fighting to turn this project into something that belongs in Dublin, people just don’t want it to completely transform the character of the neighborhood.

    The underlying zoning of the property is low density – the developer is looking to more than double this. An appropriate project that doubles density is fine, an inappropriate project isn’t. The question is what does that project look like? Those opposed do not think that this is it. I can name about 10 dense projects around town that most people would love to see on that site.

  14. jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 1:14 pm at 1:14 pm

    Jason, I’m getting the increasing impression that the situation is like this:

    Back when areas like Downtown, the SN, VV, and DP were all run-down and full of abandoned buildings, projects like King Avenue would’ve been instantly approved because it would’ve brought new life. Over the years, as more people, and especially more people with money, moved in and fixed up these areas, the tolerance for change steadily declined. There is a rather large portion of the population living in these areas now that feel like they have their neighborhoods exactly the way they want them and now don’t want them to change anymore.

    Of course, that is entirely unrealistic. You don’t spend 30 years fixing up a neighborhood and building up its popularity only to turn your back on all of it when the neighborhood becomes increasingly desirable to more and more people, which is exactly what’s happening. King Avenue is just one example of many. Look south to the goings-on at 875 Summit, or the Parkside on Pearl fiasco. Too many of these people make up development commissions. They’re the people who were around 30 years ago and radically changed the neighborhoods they now don’t want to change at all.

  15. jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 1:20 pm at 1:20 pm

    Elduderino… I don’t believe for a moment that any 10 dense projects would be approved at this site. And I am betting your list of 10 would be much different than mine.

    And yes, this is essentially now a project that belongs in the far suburbs. Besides low setback, which it has to have anyway given the site size, a 2 story apartment project with ample surface parking is entirely suburban. You bring up Dublin, but it seems to me that Dublin gets urbanity far more than the UAC or area residents in the heart of the city.

  16. elduderino July 10, 2014 1:28 pm at 1:28 pm

    Look, at the end of the day, this is what underlies the content a lot of the fights in Columbus Ohio:

    We are in an appellate court circuit that has an expansive view of takings and property rights. The City can get sued easily if a developer cannot build what they want so they must have firm grounds to deny a project, possibly firmer than in many other circuit courts. Those firm grounds are zoning laws.

    There is no mechanism that allows anyone to do what you say “Take out the student part”. There are equal housing laws. Zoning is often, the only tool that boards can use to force changes in a project and often serves as a proxy for many, many other things. The thing that often triggers a zoning variance is density.

    • jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 1:39 pm at 1:39 pm

      I didn’t say demand or force them to do it, I said ask. The developer changed the design multiple times to try and match the whims of the UAC and residents, so you can’t tell me that the developer was unwilling to cooperate. But the commission kept going far beyond the student element, and now the project doesn’t remotely resemble what the developer originally had in mind. The student element just seems like an excuse to me. Other projects under their jurisdiction had no student element to it and were still widely panned by them.

      It’s about the density, and always has been.

      • Coy
        Coy July 10, 2014 1:50 pm at 1:50 pm

        The student element isn’t an “excuse” when students are specifically sited BY THE DEVELOPER in their Statement of Hardship…

        • jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 1:54 pm at 1:54 pm

          I’m talking about it being an excuse to reduce the project’s urban and density elements as drastically as possible. I’m sure that the UAC would much rather the project be dead completely, but they don’t have the power to do that.

          Again, plenty of projects under their jurisdiction faced the exact same results that had no targeted student housing.

  17. drew
    drew July 10, 2014 1:29 pm at 1:29 pm

    jbcmh81 – the theoreticals regarding whether or not the UAC would approve anything of that density are irrelevant. The question is whether or not what amounts to an undergrad dorm, likely built cheaply for the purpose of making a quick buck if history is anything to go by, is appropriate in that neighborhood.

    It really isn’t.

    When you say:

    “You don’t spend 30 years fixing up a neighborhood and building up its popularity only to turn your back on all of it when the neighborhood becomes increasingly desirable to more and more people, which is exactly what’s happening.”

    … you might consider looking at that differently. The reaction from the neighborhood is more like this: you don’t spend 30 years fixing up a neighborhood only to welcome a development that has no relevance to what has been built.

    • jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 1:46 pm at 1:46 pm

      You speak as if the UAC has not voted against quality projects without student housing elements that were not in a single-family dominated area before. They have. Multiple times. I’m actually very curious to know if there’s actually ever been a project (that hasn’t been proposed or pushed by OSU) that wasn’t significantly reduced in scale or urban features by the UAC within the boundaries of its control. If there are, I would guess that that number is very small.

      Why does it have to be relevant to what has been built already? Are you saying the only appropriate construction there is in the form of single-family homes, which make up the vast majority of existing buildings? And how is a project with student marketability within the scope of the UNIVERSITY Area Commission, not relevant? And how exactly was the design and scale not relevant? It’s more than relevant to current demand and desirability to the neighborhood.

      • Coy
        Coy July 10, 2014 1:53 pm at 1:53 pm

        You do get that the UAC is an advisory body only, right? Ultimately it is completely up to the city to determine what happens here. The UAC doesn’t really hold nearly as much power as you have been suggesting.

        • jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 2:00 pm at 2:00 pm

          The city is only going to get the leftovers in this case, though, not the original project. That is the point. I’m sure the city will approve the project as-is, just as I suspect they would have if the original project had been presented to them. The developer, which has been accused here more than once of not working with the commission or area residents, purposely watered down the project in accordance with their wishes. So you can’t tell me they don’t have much power and influence. They surely do. Can they kill a project? No. Can they demand changes that are outside of zoning? No. Can they effectively act to remove a project of any significance, especially in terms of urban design? You bet they can. And they do. Just about every single time.

    • c_odden July 10, 2014 3:50 pm at 3:50 pm

      voted against quality projects without student housing elements that were not in a single-family dominated area before.

      There’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what variances and rezoning requests are about. I’ve seen UAC vote down projects that they in fact liked, but the applicant was unable to satisfy the formal requirements for receiving a variance. In fact, liking the project isn’t a criterion; rather, does current zoning deprive the applicant of rights that her/his neighbors with similar zoning enjoy, due to peculiarities of the applicant’s property?

      Done correctly, variance evaluations are on the basis of restoring justice in land use law. Most of the variance requests that come before zoning boards, however, are requests for special favors — exceptions to the law that grant the applicant greater rights than neighbors enjoy. Dwight Merriam (author of “The Complete Guide to Zoning”) quotes a land use lawyer who says “90% of variances granted are illegal; it’s just that no one sues.” The vast majority (I only have secondary sources, didn’t do the research myself…) of lawsuits are developers suing to get what they want, not neighbors suing to stop an illegal variance.

      … you might consider looking at that differently. The reaction from the neighborhood is more like this: you don’t spend 30 years fixing up a neighborhood only to welcome a development that has no relevance to what has been built.

      Different still: homeowners aren’t imperialists or carpetbaggers. They may be conservative by nature, but perhaps that’s because they bear the consequences for what gets built next door.

      They’re the people who were around 30 years ago and radically changed the neighborhoods they now don’t want to change at all.

      Not at all. UAC is a pretty rich mix in terms of age distribution and tenure in the neighborhood. Some of them remember the DeSantis years and other dark ages, and some of them are too young to remember. There’s no evidence of a correlation between age and preservationism, either, as voting patterns will surely show, especially when it comes to supporting mega-development and demolishing historic homes!

      • jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 4:15 pm at 4:15 pm

        Wait? What? Are you saying that all or almost all granted variances are illegal? What specifically makes them so?

        Nonsense. These neighborhoods do not exist within a vacuum. They are part of the larger city and region of Columbus, and projects have wider consequences than just to the next door neighbors. Collectively, they determine the developmental direction of the entire city.

        Regardless of whether or not everyone was around 30 years ago, the general idea is that modern change is far more frowned upon than actively supported.

        This project did not seek to demolish historic buildings nor could it ever be classified as “mega-development”.

  18. elduderino July 10, 2014 1:37 pm at 1:37 pm

    +1

  19. c_odden July 10, 2014 2:20 pm at 2:20 pm

    Good to know careful reading, much less careful consideration of of issues, is no requirement for being totally vehement in your opinions here. Kudos! 7th most intelligent city, indeed.

    Stop being confused about the difference between UAC and UARB — UARB is design issues unrelated to interiors. UAC handles stuff like density; lot coverage; height; whether someone can turn their porch into extra bedrooms; and a whole host of other stuff. So, to say “UARB approved X” means they approved some proposed finish materials. To say that UAC approved something meant they approved structural, configurational stuff — in fact, we’re not allowed to rule on design, although we often try to

    Stop being confused about what “density” means: 170 1-bedroom units are not the same as 43 2-bedroom units at basement level beneath 43 4-bedroom units with a pair of 6-bedroom units. Crying “those guys just hate density” is arrogant thoughtlessness — uninformed reflex.

    The UAC could’ve just objected to the student-marketable apartment portion of the project and proposed that that be eliminated or reduced as a % of the overall project.

    This is 100% untrue. UAC could not have done this.

    I didn’t say demand or force them to do it, I said ask. The developer changed the design multiple times to try and match the whims of the UAC and residents, so you can’t tell me that the developer was unwilling to cooperate.

    If I say “I want to kill a bunch of people” and you say “no way” and then I say “OK, just let me stab them a little” and you still won’t budge, so I totally bend and say “Fine, you got me, just let me rough them up a bit,” and you still won’t meet me in that common ground, clearly you’re not willing to compromise.

    “Whims?” The developer asked to have a property rezoned, included misleading numbers in their reports, and at some point Dan Schmidt stopped showing up to meetings. I actually feel quite badly for the project architect from CitySpace, who was dispatched (along with an intern, maybe, from JDS?) to make presentations after Dan stopped showing up. She was the one who seemed to be working the hardest to compromise and to understand the issues at hand.

    It’s unfortunate that the density has already been reduced, and the covered parking turned into a surface lot. Hopefully City Council doesn’t reject this plan in favor of keeping it as an abandoned church for the indefinite future.

    Jeebus, Walker — love false dichotomies much? This is in fact the logical slight of hand developers pull all the time in front of the UAC and other Commissions: “look at this festering craphole. Is that really what you want?” Of course they don’t, and Commissioners are either suckered by this argument… or they recognize that they’re being held hostage to either approve bending zoning law and do a favor for a single project or be accused, as so many commenters here do, of preserving squalor because the developer has bought a blighted property and won’t do anything to it unless he gets his way.

    The UAC clearly wanted the entire project killed, not just the student element.

    Thank your for your attendance at UAC zoning committee meetings, careful attention to the project, and efforts to understand all parties’ motivations — I’m sure that’s how you came to your conclusion about what UAC “clearly” wanted. You know, instead of just blowing smoke out your commenthole.

    As you note, jbcmh81, developers have had their projects constrained by UAC. Repeatedly. You know what happened before UAC and UARB existed? The monstrosities that contribute to the area’s poor reputation. With pitifully few exceptions, developers do not self-restrain — they’ve no material incentive to do so, for sure.

    Finally, note that you’re all whining about how UAC didn’t grant a giant legal handout to a single big developer who wants a density stretching existing zoning and that clearly violates the spirit of the University District Plan. It’s not like the UAC stood in the way of residents’ land-use rights.

    • jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 4:34 pm at 4:34 pm

      Tell me… Was it the UARB or the UAC that wanted a reduction in the number of units? Was it the UARB or the UAC that wanted the sprawling surface lot (which is apparently still not enough for their satisfaction)? Was it the UARB or the UAC that wanted less height? Is it now the UARB or the UAC that voted against recommending the project? By your own words, the UARB only deals with interior design elements, not density. Density issues is the crux of the entire debate.

      It’s disingenuous to claim that the UAC has no say in design when they can still vote against projects in which they don’t want to move forward, whether for design or density. If they have to come up with density arguments to vote against it, so be it, but let’s not pretend like they’re not looking at the renderings and not also making a judgment call.

      So you’re equating being against density as common sense and moral as being against mass murder? Seriously?

      So the developer had people representing him that were actively working on compromise? Yeah, I don’t really see much of a distinction here. The point is, the developer was compromising, repeatedly.

      Stop acting like a victim. You have far more control over the development process than any of your critics in this thread. You seem to feel as if you deserve to be separate from critical input, but that’s just not the case. Just as you can be and are critical of development, so too can the people be critical of your performance in doing so.

      Defending your own bad decisions on development by referencing previous generations of it does not actually bolster your position.

  20. c_odden July 10, 2014 3:06 pm at 3:06 pm

    But wait, there’s more!

    While I do agree that this project should not include 4 and 6 bedroom apts,

    “Include?” ALMOST 70% OF THE BEDROOMS ARE IN 4 & 6 BEDROOM UNITS. If you “agree that this project should not include 4 and 6 bedroom apts,” what’s your stance on THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF THE DENSITY IS IN FOUR AND SIX BEDROOM UNITS AND THE TWO BEDROOM UNITS HAVE THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING SITED ON A GROUND FLOOR DIRECTLY BENEATH A FOUR BEDROOM UNIT? (incidentally, I was wrong about the # of beds in my earlier comment — it’s 150 total, rather than 170)

    that is likely going to be priced higher than your average run-down 70s-era campus housing, which will attract grad students and medical students and not party-til-you-puke undergrads.

    Really, Walker? What new housing is within a grad student’s price range? What we (grad students) keep seeing is that grad students are too poor to afford any of the new stuff that’s cropping up, and that undergrads solve this problem by being wealthy (elegant solution!) or by packing multiple people into a bedroom — a well-known practice — and in turn shoving more cars onto the street. Undergrads’ willingness to live in living rooms and dining rooms trumps any attempts to price them out (certainly was true during my years on Northwood and W 10th), and that means that housing dynamics don’t work the same as if you plunked this thing down in King Lincoln — which you’re welcome to do, if you love it so much!

    You imply that folks with more money to spend on housing will be better residents. Campus landlords will not agree with you, and have plenty of entertaining stories as counterevidence. We can all find exceptions to prove the rule, but I bet your assumption about the kind of person who’ll live in cheaper or more expensive housing comes from prejudice rather than evidence.

    I’ll make some assumptions here, too, but I’d bet real money that the evidence would bear them out: (1) undergrads are more elastic in their living arrangements and, in w.r.t. the present case, will find a way to afford a 4-bedroom apartment down the street from the Viking Carry-Out and Hamptons; (2) Exactly zero graduate students would live in the proposed development, since they either couldn’t afford it or would be outnumbered by undergrads; (3) exactly zero young professional singles or couples would choose to live in the proposed development, because at the price they can live elsewhere and not be in a majority-undergrad neighborhood; (4) exactly zero people with kids will choose to live in the proposed development because of all those reasons. OSU is sui generis — it has unique subpopulations who comprise proportions of neighborhood residents such that render generic principles like “high-density urban is awesome!” inapplicable.

    I have no problem with the overall density of it.

    Fine. Do you live in that neighborhood, you know, the one that’ll be directly affected by it?

    They purposely have made the project as insignificant as possible, while simultaneously making it the least urban. This was not just about the student element for them. This was about the fact that they consistently hold the view that density in any form, in any location, is not compatible with how they view the future of these neighborhoods. This is the exact opposite viewpoint they should have given the characteristics of what already exists in the neighborhoods as well as the very high demand for urban living.

    Your arrogance stretches the limits of civility.

    The university area is already the densest in Columbus, but much of it is pathological — people-packing in spaces poorly designed for it.

    The JDS proposal suggests double-stacked parking that won’t necessarily be free. As a non-driver, that wouldn’t affect me.

    Demand for urban living is not universal, and “urban living” itself is a caricature, not some useful concept we can point to when talking about what we want.

    Do you live in the University Area? If so, you seem to have really strong opinions and you should come voice them so that the UAC is better informed about its constituents’ desires. If not, consider your own arrogance and shortsightedness for presuming to know what’s best for the area.

    Oh wait… when you make a comment like…

    They surely do. Can they kill a project? No. Can they demand changes that are outside of zoning? No. Can they effectively act to remove a project of any significance, especially in terms of urban design? You bet they can. And they do. Just about every single time.[/quote

    ... it's hard to believe you even live in the Area:
    "of any significance"-- what is this, Atlas Shrugged?
    "just about every single time?" -- The UAC has been repeatedly accused of rubber-stamping variance requests in spite of resident objection.

    [quote]I’m sure that the UAC would much rather the project be dead completely, but they don’t have the power to do that.

    Stop being sure about things that aren’t true.

    • jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 4:40 pm at 4:40 pm

      Wow, I didn’t honestly know how bad it really was until now.

  21. c_odden July 10, 2014 3:11 pm at 3:11 pm

    Formatting error… please forgive! Bottom of my previous comment part deux…

    Oh wait… when you make a comment like…

    They surely do. Can they kill a project? No. Can they demand changes that are outside of zoning? No. Can they effectively act to remove a project of any significance, especially in terms of urban design? You bet they can. And they do. Just about every single time.

    … it’s hard to believe you even live in the Area:

    “of any significance”

    — what is this, Atlas Shrugged?

    “just about every single time?”

    — The UAC has been repeatedly accused of rubber-stamping variance requests in spite of resident objection.

    I’m sure that the UAC would much rather the project be dead completely, but they don’t have the power to do that.

    Stop being sure about things that aren’t true.

  22. Jason Powell
    Jason Powell July 10, 2014 3:38 pm at 3:38 pm

    Wow! Lighten up man. Judging by the use of “we’re” and “we”, I’m guessing you are on the UARB board. If so, that’s not really the tone you want to use for those on this board that may live in the neighborhood. Just saying.

    • labi July 10, 2014 3:49 pm at 3:49 pm

      c_odden’s tone is actually EXACTLY what I as a resident want to hear. There are a lot of details to what constitutes desirable development in the University District, and I’m tired of listening to sweeping comments that don’t take them into account. Just because a project is dense doesn’t mean it’s good. And just because a developer is proposing a dense project doesn’t make them some kind of white knight struggling against the ignorant peasants who happen to live in close proximity to where all that dreamy density is going to actually sit for the next 50 years.

      • jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 4:46 pm at 4:46 pm

        No one has actually suggested that density alone is universally positive. And certainly no one has called anyone ignorant peasants. Just that there’s a history of turning good projects to shit in this area recently. I know the UD, especially in the past, has seen a lot of bad development thrown up for easy monetary gain. But in recent years, when higher-quality projects have been proposed, they’re just not being allowed to move forward, either.

        What I’m suggesting is that, for whatever reason, bad and good design are getting tossed into the same pile and watered down even more. It’s not the same mistake as the past, but it’s definitely a mistake. You’re not getting quality projects while you desperately try to convince everyone that that’s what you really want.

        • labi July 10, 2014 5:40 pm at 5:40 pm

          The thing is, this project is not a good quality project. Any project with a majority of 4-6 bedroom units is simply a mistake at any price point due to its caustic effect on neighborhood quality of life. Especially with the sophomore rule on the brink of taking effect, which with any luck will draw the boundaries of the highest-density undergrad zone in toward campus.

  23. Jason Powell
    Jason Powell July 10, 2014 3:54 pm at 3:54 pm

    Nobody is calling anybody ignorant peasants. Jeez!

    Just out of curiosity, for those who do live in the neighborhood, what exactly is it that you want for the site?

    • rvin July 10, 2014 4:52 pm at 4:52 pm

      As a resident of the neighborhood, I (realistically), would like to see a development that achieves a mix of rental apartments and single family, owner occupied condos that simply adhere to the existing AR4/R4 density/zoning regulations.

      Essentially the type of development falls in line with what already exists in the neighborhood, not one that is essentially will be a dorm for 1-year transients.

  24. rory July 10, 2014 4:07 pm at 4:07 pm

    Density isn’t the problem in the University District. The problem in the University District is completely uncontrolled density and development and what is basically a mockery of the zoning code for individual gain, usually someone who doesn’t live there. For instance, there’s little danger that someone who lives by the Hubbard in IV will have their neighbor convert their single-family home into an de facto apartment and pave the backyard for parking because Elford is making a killing on it and they should get in on the action. The IV or VV commission wouldn’t allow it In the University District it’s totally legal because the neighborhood never instituted any historic guidelines or development controls. City Council and the BZA go right along with it because slumlords line their pockets. A development like the one on King will just beget a batch of really bad student housing by people who don’t care about the effect on the neighbors. That’s why everyone is opposed to density. If development was controlled like Italian Village and Victorian Village where an individual homeowner is somewhat protected it would be a different story. But the University District is just a neighborhood planned only by greed with the resultant hot student-ghetto mess we have today.

    • jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 4:48 pm at 4:48 pm

      So if that’s really the issue, who, pray tell, has any say about those standards and whether or not they’re changed?

  25. rory July 10, 2014 5:05 pm at 5:05 pm

    The draft University Plan addresses a lot of these issues and calls for more residents on the UARB. There’s one University District resident on the UARB now. It’s hard to believe that there’s only one qualified design professional in the neighborhood around a major land grant university. All City Council has to do is incorporate some design standards and community’s suggestions from the draft plan into code. They did it 40 years ago in Italian Village. It seems that historic preservation is working there. Of course, that’s going to upset a lot of slumlords and consequent campaign donations. Every time I’ve talked to various council members about slumlords expanding houses into people packer student firetraps and they walk away or profess to know nothing about it. The message so far is pretty clear from City Council to University District homeowners and it’s essentially, “go fuck yourself.”

  26. John2121 July 10, 2014 5:33 pm at 5:33 pm

    How on earth do you look at this project and come up with “slumlords…people packer student firetraps”? This is a nicer plan than virtually all student housing offered on campus. The designer’s also done a great job of blending in with the prevailing architecture in the area…. I have NO idea how you could legitimately claim that it doesn’t. There are dozens of lots along King and side streets that look like complete garbage.

    There are a lot of assumptions being made that the bedroom count immediately disqualifies anyone but undergrads. It’s walking distance from the med center and the law school, but just far enough away to avoid the frat atmosphere that you’ll find on 10th Ave or across high. There are over 10,000 graduate students at OSU, they don’t need to grab that high of a % to reach full occupancy. I also doubt it’s in the developer’s best interest to have their new units torn to shreds every 12-month lease cycle. Maybe they’re trying something new, and actually know more about their target demographic than residents with their own agenda?

    The residents here just don’t want anything to change, and that’s fine, nobody ever does. But you live in the University District, don’t be surprised when the largest school in the country actually expands a whopping 1.5 miles out. Without OSU, this entire area would be a joke compared to what it is today. If you want a future of peace and quiet, maybe you should start talking to your realtor…

  27. c_odden July 10, 2014 9:26 pm at 9:26 pm

    Wow! Lighten up man.

    You’re right, man. I’m sorry, man. I should join the general willingness to comment without reading, to assume that the result of a vote means a frothing-at-the-mouth determination to kill urban dreams (or whatever). Man.

    Because, you know, this is just abstract talk about unimportant stuff, so we might as well treat it with the lightheartedness we give to watercooler talk about World Cup or artisan toast or whatever. Man.

    Judging by the use of “we’re” and “we”, I’m guessing you are on the UARB board.

    Nope, man.

    No one has actually suggested that density alone is universally positive.

    Correct. What you/they’ve done, instead, is to uncritically evaluate proposals, speculate about the debates that transpired, and emerge with a provocative dichotomy where commissioners and other area residents monolithically object to a project on the grounds that it’s too dense.

    There are over 10,000 graduate students at OSU, they don’t need to grab that high of a % to reach full occupancy. I also doubt it’s in the developer’s best interest to have their new units torn to shreds every 12-month lease cycle. Maybe they’re trying something new, and actually know more about their target demographic than residents with their own agenda?

    No, they don’t. Because they were asked whether they did any market research on, or reached out to, grad students. In fact, I asked them. And they didn’t. I invited them to an effing potluck at the Faculty Club where over a thousand grad students would be assembled, many of whom expressed interest in discussing their *actual* housing needs.

    Then, we did a straw poll in OSU’s graduate student government… guess what? The overwhelming majority — who were informed about the number of bedrooms per unit — said this isn’t the kind of housing they’re looking for.

    So… as you say, “(t)here are a lot of assumptions being made that the bedroom count immediately disqualifies anyone but undergrads,” but you’re the one doing the assuming. We did research. We invited the developer to talk to us. They chose to not.

    How on earth do you look at this project and come up with “slumlords…people packer student firetraps”?

    Rory didn’t — read what he wrote again, carefully this time. What he actually wrote is that City Council is unresponsive to area resident concerns, time and time again.

    If you want a future of peace and quiet, maybe you should start talking to your realtor…

    This is a spectacularly stupid and offensive comment. I know you think you know what you’re saying, but it’s effectively “fuck you for trying” to people who’ve chosen to live in neighborhoods that, before OSU’s postwar mega-expansion, were largely owner-occupied. OSU encouraged many of us to live here with (trivial) down payment incentives. I just came from a blockwatch meeting where we’re going to try and provide better advice to students on car and home security because the student population is a magnet for property crime. We’re not trying to drive students away or deny the reality of where we are, and many of us spend a lot of goddamn unpaid hours working hard, apparently so that smug twits who jump to conclusions can snark about it on message boards. It’s not a fool’s errand, either; we see results from our efforts.

  28. John2121 July 10, 2014 9:41 pm at 9:41 pm

    Overwhelming majority of 10,000 still leaves a minority capable of occupying this entire space. There are also plenty of junior and senior undergrads and post-grads that are fully capable of living somewhere without turning it into a frat house.

    My point on the slumlord comment is that it has no baring on the project at hand. In fact, projects like this should be embraced compared to the majority of existing student housing complexes. Given the size and reputation of OSU, it’s lack of quality student housing is a joke compared to other major campuses.

    Lastly it’s not an f-you for trying. It’s just naive to think that your area won’t continue to produce more projects like this. This isn’t an offensively large development at all compared to the scale of projects going on in neighborhoods all over town. You can’t expect strictly owner occupied units in that location going forward, it’s not going to happen. This is the reality facing the University District, and curse all you like, but that’s the real world.

  29. c_odden July 10, 2014 9:56 pm at 9:56 pm

    Tell me… Was it the UARB or the UAC that wanted a reduction in the number of units?

    Guh? Some commissioners favored different things — saying “UAC wanted” is idiotic, because unless there’s a vote you can’t make statements about UAC having this or that orientation. Anyone who shows up to meetings and pays attention knows that consensus is rare.

    But, I know whatcha mean. I don’t recall calls to reduce the number of units. Within-unit density? Sure.

    Was it the UARB or the UAC that wanted the sprawling surface lot (which is apparently still not enough for their satisfaction)?

    Anyway, I favored multilevel parking, but with some hesitation. I believe the applicant was initially quite generous about parking allocation, but double-stack parking spots often only get filled with one car and the rest spill out onto street parking, so that projects that satisfy official parking requirements still cause large spillovers onto the streets.

    Was it the UARB or the UAC that wanted less height? Is it now the UARB or the UAC that voted against recommending the project? By your own words, the UARB only deals with interior design elements, not density. Density issues is the crux of the entire debate.

    Take a deep breath and read more carefully. I said “unrelated to interiors.”

    Also, if you think “density issues is the crux of the entire debate,” you haven’t been paying attention. Density matters. So does sustainable design and spaces that will be attractive to diverse folks.

    It’s disingenuous to claim that the UAC has no say in design when they can still vote against projects in which they don’t want to move forward, whether for design or density.

    Design elements are not UAC jurisdiction. However, deciding whether the conditions for variance eligibility are UAC’s purview. And, the burden falls squarely on the applicant, which is nice since it shouldn’t fall on a commission to demonstrate that zoning law shouldn’t be bent every time someone asks.

    If they have to come up with density arguments to vote against it, so be it, but let’s not pretend like they’re not looking at the renderings and not also making a judgment call.

    Throughout this debate you’ve made bold assertions with no evidence, and on the basis of experience I know that much of what you’ve said has been outright untrue. Yet, you’re so committed to your position that you resort to rhetorical flourishes like “let’s not pretend like…” This is the refuge of someone who wasn’t there.

    So you’re equating being against density as common sense and moral as being against mass murder? Seriously?

    Come on, be brave — either understand an humorous analogy or don’t, but those are cowardly words.

    So the developer had people representing him that were actively working on compromise? Yeah, I don’t really see much of a distinction here. The point is, the developer was compromising, repeatedly.

    You still aren’t dealing with the issue that if you come with an extreme demand and get compromised (so to speak) down to a less absurd one, you don’t deserve an effing medal. If you think this level of compromise is valorous you need to up your standards.

    Funny — no one’s acknowledged that the UAC also compromised on FAR, and in doing so may have gone against wishes of area residents. I like representative democracy, so I mostly don’t approve giving nonresident speculators favors against residents’ wishes.

    Stop acting like a victim. You have far more control over the development process than any of your critics in this thread. You seem to feel as if you deserve to be separate from critical input, but that’s just not the case. Just as you can be and are critical of development, so too can the people be critical of your performance in doing so.

    Quit using pat phrases like “stop acting like a victim” — that’s just saccharine and trite. You’re also getting into ad hominem territory, whereas I’m just pointing out where you’re flatly wrong. My objection isn’t to criticism; rather, it’s uninformed criticism by those with no real skin in the proverbial game, for whom this is an opportunity to spew opinions out into the public square. I’ll take informed, carefully considered scathing critique any day — the problem is that we’re debating a project of questionable merit and many of the comments in favor are by polarized true believers who didn’t check their facts.

    • jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm

      The UAC voted against the project 16-1. Regardless of the UAC being made up of individuals, they pretty much all vote for the same result. So saying “the UAC wanted” is not exactly stretching the truth. If there was not stated concern by at least enough of the members that the development had too many units outside of in-unit density, why would the developer voluntarily reduce the number by more than 30%? Or were the number units forced into reduction by height concerns?

      Specifically, do you understand why parking should not be a primary concern in an urban neighborhood with an urban project? If you wanted multi-level parking, there’s hope that you do, but it’s ridiculous to demand a 1:1 ratio of spaces in a supposedly urban, walkable neighborhood.

      The fact that the UARB doesn’t deal with interior design issues just makes it worse, because it means even more problems were found by the UAC alone.

      There is nothing to suggest the project would not be attractive to a diverse range of people, or that it’s unsustainable. Unless OSU plans to pack it in anytime soon, there will always be
      a population of tenants, not including people who may just want to live in an urban neighborhood with roommates, which is not exactly unheard of.

      I was speaking theoretically, meaning that even if the UAC does not deal directly with design, they can still look at a project and object to that design. They just to find reasons within their scope of authority to raise that objection. This is not exactly an outrageous, impossible scenario. In this specific case, however, the UAC clearly found enough to object to within their scope of authority.

      This is the internet, pal, where nutty things are said on a daily basis by millions. If you expect people to take something as a joke, you better make it clear. Alas it wasn’t, and even as a joke, a terrible comparison.

      What was the extreme demand, though? So far, I’m not seeing one. And who said anything about the developer deserving a reward? The claim was brought up that the developer was not working with residents or the commission to make a more widely agreeable product. Clearly, that’s not true.

      I get trying to work with area residents and all, but name a project anywhere in the city that did not meet with resident objection. If it came down to it, if they were allowed to dictate development, Columbus would be stagnated, and more likely, in decline, as nothing would ever get done. There’s only so much compromise to be had before a project loses any impact it would’ve had, and frankly I’m sick to death of the city always playing it ridiculously safe.

      You haven’t really provided any new information, and honestly, just confirmed a lot of what was said. It’d really be one thing if this was the first example of a project that watered down, but it’s not. But being part of the UAC, perhaps you could give some examples in which density of any kind was actively pushed by its members into a project that was actually built.

  30. AMEEKER July 10, 2014 9:57 pm at 9:57 pm

    Dang. I don’t know who c_odden is offline, but I like him/her.

    • c_odden July 10, 2014 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm

      There is no on/offline. It’s all just ‘line.’
      Can’t you see I’m a dog?

  31. c_odden July 10, 2014 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm

    Oh, wait… I remember why these quagmires always end badly.

    You can’t expect strictly owner occupied units in that location going forward, it’s not going to happen

    False dichotomy. Also not what I said.

    My point on the slumlord comment is that it has no baring on the project at hand.

    Again, has nothing to do with what Rory was talking about.

    Overwhelming majority of 10,000 still leaves a minority capable of occupying this entire space.

    They won’t. Read the work of Thomas Schelling, followed by the residential segregation literature and work by Bruch and Mare if you need reference materials.

    It’s just naive to think that your area won’t continue to produce more projects like this.

    “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” Or some such.

    Anyway, I don’t think what you claim I’m thinking. The contrary, in fact. According to Campus Partners, there are developers drooling over the massive acquisition spanning 8th-High-9th-Indianola (almost), with hopes of building 20+ story scrapers. Uncontrolled real estate development is a clusterfuck because you can’t trust developers to be good citizens.

    What’s naive, in point of fact, is saying “we trust you” and then bitching when economically rational actors do what economically rational actors do. I’m proposing to not do that, and to face reality ex ante — private development isn’t charity; it isn’t civic; it’s profit-seeking. It may be rational to design well, and it may be rational to refrain from totally absurd projects because people remember that kind of thing, but building risky shit near OSU is comparatively low-risk because OSU won’t let something like that fail, standardized housing is delicious to large organizations in a way that the jumble of single-family houses never will be, and when you build big you become 2big2fail (part 2 electric boogaloo).

    Let’s come back to your comment, though:

    If you want a future of peace and quiet, maybe you should start talking to your realtor…

    I should have been clearer. These disputes aren’t about noise — too facile to say this is about hating undergrads, because I’m sure it’s true for some folks but it distracts from the real issues. Maybe they’re about ensuring that what gets built is as good for the neighborhood as it can be, and resisting the trap of “do you want this so-so design or do you really love that parking lot / mudpit so much?”

    What stumps me is why everyone’s so excited for big developments… “significant ones.” It’s not like this is even innovative design — if the renderings were realized as they are it’s more of the cookie-cutter garbage on Summit that replaced the rather nice-looking church… and is now disintegrating. Plus, for all the enthusiasm for Columbus “moving forward” (new buzzphrase, plz!) it’s weird that so many folks are slathering for a failed Modernism that’s become bulldozer-fodder in places that adopted it long ago, since housing like that is dated as soon as it goes up, and the quality of materials and care of construction will be insufficient to preserve the structures long enough to make them classic.

    Townhouses and single-family houses can be amended. They lack economies of scale, but those are false economies when you do stuff wrong and you have to come up with millions to fix something — I don’t mean malfunctions, I mean lousy unsustainable choices.

    • jbcmh81 July 10, 2014 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm

      Perhaps I was wrong when I said that UAC was anti-density. This post comes close to just saying that private development is just not welcome, dense or otherwise, as it’ll likely be cheaply built shit that won’t last, anyway.

  32. c_odden July 10, 2014 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm

    Shame on me for not reading carefully, myself, as this is by far the most important string of words written here:

    Density isn’t the problem in the University District. The problem in the University District is completely uncontrolled density and development and what is basically a mockery of the zoning code for individual gain, usually (by) someone who doesn’t live there.

    • Walker Evans
      Walker Evans July 11, 2014 9:39 am at 9:39 am

      The comments here all come from people who are passionate about their city and its neighborhoods, regardless of whether or not they agree.

      That comic strip was likely meant for youtube comments where 13 year olds call each other names, or Dispatch articles where everything is blamed on Obama.

      No need to belittle the communication platform just because not everyone agrees with you.

      • c_odden July 11, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am

        No need to belittle the communication platform

        Fair point! Didn’t occur to me that this should be taken as excluding all the ‘ink’ I myself spilled on this thread — part of why I find it funny is I implicate myself, too. I guess that is a criticism of the medium, if perhaps not intended as belittling, but not of the platform. Isn’t it impressive that CU doesn’t impose any greater technical restriction than, say, the Dispatch, but the content is generally far more civil and considered? That says something, to me, very positive about the kind of discourse CU inspires.

        all come from people who are passionate

        First, they’re not all passionate. It’s kind of you to say so, but you’re being too generous. Being phlegmatic isn’t inferior, either! After all, being passionate gets a lot of unworthy praise. Toddlers are passionate about tons of stuff. I’ll refrain from violating Godwin’s law here, but it’s awfully tempting. Passion isn’t even a necessary criterion for having positive influences — or perhaps it’s because it’s passion for understanding, to get things right, etc.. Cautiousness is every bit as valuable as being bold and visionary, but the latter’s sexier and we’re naturally drawn to it.

        just because not everyone agrees with you.

        First, I implicate myself in reproducing the unproductive stuff in discussions like these, especially when I’m more passionate than considered. Second, this argument has the relativistic “all opinions are equal… just opinions” implication that’s a shield for climate change deniers and “just a theory, man” zealots injecting creationism into curricula.

        You say:

        where 13 year olds call each other names

        Assuming CU posters are adults, is the name-calling I see on this board much different? Incidentally, this isn’t CU’s fault — thank goodness the online public square has room for the messiness that comes with real democracy, not that ad hominem attacks have ever made a real contribution to debate.

        In your first comment:

        but seems kind of ridiculous for the University Area Commission based on density issues

        and

        …which will attract grad students and medical students and not party-til-you-puke undergrads

        If you think CU is better than uninformed speculation, hold yourself to a higher standard. Plenty of folks look to you as an example, as CU and Metropreneur are held in pretty high regard. Some folks even look to the former as a journalistic alternative to Cols’ commercial mainstream press.

        • Walker Evans
          Walker Evans July 11, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am

          What I write into an article VS what I share as my personal opinion in a comment are two very different things. Which is why I prefaced what you quoted with “Just my 2 cents”…

          Either way, I have not called anyone names.

  33. John2121 July 10, 2014 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm

    I understand your points and respect your passion…You correctly stated that people commenting (like myself) do not have skin in the game like you do. But it’s also a Columbus Underground article, so neutral opinions are to be expected.

    I agree that uncontrolled development is a bad thing, but this project can’t be mentioned in the same breath as the skyscraper aspirations you outlined. I do not think that approving this would open the floodgates to projects like that…Maybe this particular development isn’t ideal for nearby residents, but it certainly has plenty positives for the larger university area.

    Private developers are of course first and foremost for-profit…I don’t see how anyone would argue otherwise or expect them to act otherwise. I also don’t see how you can worry about needing to spend millions when something goes wrong, when in that situation the same private developer would foot the bill. There’s no way that OSU would save this complex if it ran into financial hardship.

    For the look It sounds like you don’t like modern design and that’s fine, but that’s your preference. The Summit complex you mentioned is, in my view, much more beneficial to the city than a church that you felt looked nice. It was an attempt to revitalize an area that suffers from far too much crime and economic depression. This design isn’t cookie-cutter, it’s a housing development with a consistent aesthetic. Do you expect them to provide completely unique, built-to-spec units for college rental units? Go look at the most historic campus housing spots that existed before this modern push… Many are basically occupied ‘bulldozer fodder’ right now

    It sounds like you want this developer to build something nice enough to be a future historic property, but you could never justify a high enough rent (or headcount) to cover those costs for such a project in the University District. There are some nice homes but it’s far from the likes of Upper Arlington… There are several delapetaded properties in that area, and that level of new construction wouldn’t make economic sense for anyone. These developers aren’t inherently evil, and this project isn’t inherently offensive. I think it’s a realistic proposal, but if the arguments you made are right, it won’t be built…. Honestly from the level of confidence you have for your views, and the immediate disdain you have for any dissenting ones, I don’t understand why you’d even take the time to worry. Sounds like it’s a slam dunk for your side.

  34. c_odden July 11, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am

    You correctly stated that people commenting (like myself) do not have skin in the game like you do.

    Just to be clear: I live more than a mile away. In the Area, but my comments aren’t NIMBY. There’s also the popular argument that objectors wouldn’t care if this were built elsewhere (I guess that’s a core tenet of NIMBY, come to think of it). Not so — as Jason Powell pointed out, there are only so many of these parcels, so development should be done right. For my part, I want a *heavy* emphasis on sustainable construction that minimizes utility costs for residents (I’m not expecting passivehauses in Columbus, but it would be genuinely forward-thinking housing), excellent surface water management, and . Investments like these will make housing highly desirable down the road while everyone else is scrambling to figure out conservation retrofits. The response I typically get is that it’s arrogant to demand that developers be visionary in this way (but being ‘significant’ in some other way is laudable). Must be…

    But it’s also a Columbus Underground article, so neutral opinions are to be expected.

    I’m not sure what a ‘neutral’ comment would look like — aren’t we full of biases even when we explicitly try to be objective? — and there are certainly none on this thread. My objection was never to taking a stance. Rather, it’s to the knee-jerk reactions by those who didn’t bother to read the details or take time to understand how the process unfolded. But, as you say, this is CU — to be fair, the world needs safe spaces for exploratory hashing out of things, so why not a comments thread?

    Honestly from the level of confidence you have for your views, and the immediate disdain you have for any dissenting ones,

    I don’t have disdain for opinions. I have disdain for opinions that aren’t founded on evidence, experience (valid form of evidence) or logic. Totally possible that someone could come to the same opinion after reading the various iterations of the proposal, hearing comments from neighbors, discussing with those who’ve been around and have seen the history of how developments ‘fit’ in neighborhoods, etc. I see no need to suffer fools when something real is at stake.

    It sounds like you don’t like modern design

    Modern design is a big tent. There’s good and bad in there. jbcmh81 suggested that good and bad design were being thrown into the same proverbial bucket, but having high standards for design can look to some like simply being opposed to modern stuff, sure.

    These developers aren’t inherently evil, and this project isn’t inherently offensive.

    Who’s made the opposing argument that they are and it is? I sure haven’t. In fact, I like a lot about it. Again, it’s the assumption that this is war — of one sort or another — that destroys productive discussion. Groups like UAC were painted as hating the project, and projects like it, or all projects, or everything, but as far as I can tell that comes from an inability to distinguish the difference between a vote on a legal matter and the endorsement or condemnation of a project. This confusion makes for provocative speculation, but if you want understanding you’re not gonna find it there.

    for your side

    That’s the rub, as far as I’m concerned. Discussions like this shouldn’t be war, but early voices came with the casual, unthinking violence of a bag of assumptions and treating nuanced issues with a broad brush. Again, it’s a CU comments thread — what the hell do I want?

    • jbcmh81 July 11, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am

      I asked for a list of projects that were of an urban or dense design that the UAC actively encouraged and voted for. We have all seen several times where such projects were not approved or watered down, whether in the heart of a residential area like this one or directly on High. You say it’s because it was bad design or didn’t fit in with the neighborhood, but to any outsider, it would logically appear as being anti-density and anti-urban. So maybe we’ve just missed all those urban projects you actually voted for and even encouraged to have more urban and dense elements to them (reduced parking requirements, maintained or increased level of height, 0 setbacks, maintained or increased number of units, etc). You said above that the UAC often gets criticized for rubber stamping projects, but again, to the casual observer or outsider, the opposite appears true. So if it’s all just a big misunderstanding, can you point out instances in which the UAC went for more urban design and density instead of less? Honest question.

  35. BillFoto3 July 12, 2014 7:32 pm at 7:32 pm

    Why does everyone keep saying 70% is 4/6 bedrooms? 25/48 = 52%. Am I missing something? So basically half undergrads and half everyone else.

    A FAR of 0.4 basically makes it impossible for an sort of reasonably dense apartment/townhome complex to be built at that location. Even the average FAR of the area, 0.57, would be tricky.

    Unless I am mistaken (totally possible), reducing the count of bedrooms does nothing to reduce the FAR number unless they just built smaller units and had a larger parking lot/more green space.

    If the problem is the 4/6 units and/or lack of owner-occupy units, then just say that and be done with it. All the FAR talk is really beside the point because its really a terrible measurement for density/design. It’s rudimentary and overly simplistic.

    • c_odden July 15, 2014 5:17 pm at 5:17 pm

      52% of units is not 52% of occupants.

      Even if you’re talking % of units, EVERY SINGLE 2-bedroom is a ground-level flat beneath a 4-bedroom. So, who’s the “everyone else” who’d live underneath these 4-bedrooms?

      FAR gets used because of the unique problems of housing in neighborhoods surrounding OSU. It’s an imperfect measure. Count of bedrooms is imperfect for different reasons. We all welcome your improved measure that solves the problems inherent in existing ones.

      FAR is not % lot coverage — so, yes, you are mistaken but that’s OK (he who is without error cast the first stone, and so on) — and it’s easy to conflate the two.

      “reasonably dense” — it’s the subjectivity of opinion on what’s reasonable, and the place-specificity of reasonableness, that make it easy to use ‘reasonable’ as a rhetorical weapon to cast those who disagree as unreasonable, and hard to come up with objective standards against which you could evaluate any given position.

      It’s also easy to cast the debate over this proposed development as single-issue, as if it’s really quite simple and people should just admit what the issue is “and be done with it.”

  36. Coy
    Coy July 15, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am

    I take it this is where the Limestone couch is going now?

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