Columbus is filled with beautiful historic neighborhoods. From German Village to Olde Towne East to Victorian Village to Merion Village, the central city has a wealth of streets lined with well maintained historic architecture. Which means that modern architecture can sometimes be a little harder to come by.
Enter: Jeffrey Park, a massive new $180 million urban development planned for the 41 acre site once home to The Jeffrey Manufacturing Company. Wagenbrenner Development has made plans to build out 1,350 residential units in a mix of apartment buildings for rent and townhomes for sale.
“Essentially, we now have title to the whole site with the exception of the lots where the two existing buildings are located,” said Mark Wagenbrenner, President of Wagenbrenner Development. “We’ve presented this development to the Italian Village Commission about five times now and it’s gone really well.”
Phase one of Jeffrey Park is expected to begin construction on the north end of the site in April, which will include 261 rental units and 73 townhomes for sale. The first phase represents a $34 million investment into the project.
“The future phases are still somewhat speculative, but we’ve been trying to lay out a course of action,” said Wagenbrenner. “All told, this represents around 1,350 units with a community center, a restaurant space and parking.”
The team at Wagenbrenner Development said that high demand for apartments in the urban market is driven by the Millennial demographic, but they hope their new development will cater to a wide range of residents. The configuration of Jeffrey Park will be designed to accomodate pedestrian access with a green promenade connecting pool areas to open green spaces. The townhomes are not being sold as condominiums to help lower barriers to entry for potential buyers.
“We’re working in today’s financing environment and the purchasers of these homes have to qualify for loans,” explained Wagenbrenner. “It’s hard to get condominium loans, so these will be treated as fee-simple homes where your lot is directly under your house. From a financing standpoint you’ll qualify for all of the lending programs and super low interest rates here just like you would if you were buying a house in the suburbs.”
Unlike many of their suburban counterparts, the townhomes found in Jeffrey Park stand out with a sharp modern style courtesy of BBCO Design, a firm based here in Columbus. Many of the architectural details for future townhome phases (some of which are pictured) are still subject to change to fit customer feedback.
If reading all of this is giving you a slight bit of deja vu, it’s for a good reason. A similar project from a different developer was announced for this long-vacant site back in 2000, but it failed to get off the ground due to a variety of issues. Based on several comments from the Columbus Underground messageboard, expectations for the completion of Jeffrey Park have grown higher under the development arm of Wagenbrenner, as they’ve proven their track record with the smaller-but-similar Harrison Park project in the nearby Harrison West neighborhood.
“We’ve been very traditional in our architecture at Harrison Park, but over here we need to embrace a more modern edge,” said Wagenbrenner. “We want to pay tribute to the industrial history of the area with factory windows, black brick and metal panels. But we also try to mix up the building types so that it doesn’t look like it’s one large development and instead feels more like a neighborhood.”
One thing you won’t find much of at Jeffrey Park is commercial space. Other than the Community Center building (which may house a restaurant and/or coffee shop) located at the corner of Fourth Street and First Avenue, the development is completely residential.
“Convincing retailers to build in this day and age is hard because they’re not risk takers,” explained Wagenbrenner. “We still have so many good opportunities for retail development within walking distance on High Street, we don’t see why we should oversaturate that piece of it when what’s really needed is neighborhood densification, which will help High Street retail grow even stronger.”
While most urban enthusiasts might find little wrong with a grand development plan like Jeffrey Park, there are still some issues to be addressed with regard to traffic control and complete streets.
“We just had a meeting with the Italian Village traffic group and we’re going to get together with Weinland Park to really take a look at enhancing some plans that ODOT has already said that they’ll partially fund for bike lanes on Summit and Fourth,” said Wagenbrenner. “We want to get everyone together to collectively go to the City of Columbus and ask for additional enhancements to promote better on-street parking, alternative modes of transportation, bike and pedestrian infrastructure and first and formost, slowing down the traffic on Fourth.”
Currently, Fourth Street is provided with an extra dose of fast moving vehicles by an exit ramp off of Interstate 670. A long term study from ODOT has evaluated the impact of removing that exit ramp altogether. But in the short term, Jeffrey Park is moving forward regardless.
“We’re looking at April on the apartments, and we expect to get the townhouses underway by June,” said Wagenbrenner. “The community center should come along at the same time.”
It will take years for all phases of Jeffrey Park to be complete, but it’s safe to say that this development will have a huge impact on the future of Italian Village. In 2010, the neighborhood was home to approximately 2,200 residents. If an average of one and a half people move into in each of Jeffrey Park’s 1,350 spaces, it will add another 2,025 people to the neighborhood, effectively doubling the population.
More information about Wagenbrenner Development can be found online at www.wagdev.com.
Additional views of the apartments and townhomes can be found below. Click the images to enlarge.