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New Design Proposed for Affordable Apartments Downtown

Brent Warren Brent Warren New Design Proposed for Affordable Apartments DowntownRendering by Moody Nolan.
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Two different commissions will soon get a chance to weigh in on an updated design for Topiary Park Crossing, a 98-unit apartment building proposed for 497 E. Town St.

The project will be presented to the Downtown Commission on August 24 and – because it is located in the East Town Historic District – to the Historic Resources Commission on August 19.

The proposal stands out among recent Downtown development projects because of its focus on affordability.

The Columbus Downtown Development Commission (CDDC) bought the 0.7-acre vacant lot in February and posted a request for proposals on its website last spring outlining the parameters for the project, including a requirement that all of the units in the building be affordable to tenants earning between 60 and 100 percent of the area median income (AMI).

While some recent Downtown development proposals have followed the affordability guidelines tied to the city’s tax abatement and incentive policies, in practice that means that at most 20 percent of the units in those projects will be affordable (and those units will be priced at the 80 to 100 percent AMI level).

The last fully-affordable project built Downtown may have been the Commons at Buckingham, located at the end of North Sixth Street near I-670, which opened in 2010.

The proposed building’s ornate design is also a departure from the more modern aesthetic that defines most of the new buildings constructed recently Downtown.

David Meleca, Partner and Director of Classical Architecture at Moody Nolan, said that inspiration for the new design was taken from the surrounding neighborhood, which features several prominent buildings designed in the Queen Anne style.

“While we liked our initial design in many ways, we wanted to continue to improve it,” he said. “Our overall goal was to design a pro-forma driven, affordable housing project that fit seamlessly into the neighborhood character and was Architecture with a capital ‘A,’ a proud addition to the historic Topiary Park and neighborhood.” 

Included in the submission packet for the project to both commissions was a letter of support from Columbus Landmarks, which praised the CDDC for “approaching the project in a way that unites high quality design and affordable housing.”

The agendas and meeting materials for the Downtown Commission and the Historic Resources Commission can be found here.

Additional Reading on Affordable Housing: YMCA Plans to ‘Phase Out’ Operations at Downtown Building

A view of the proposed building from Topiary Park across the street. Rendering by Moody Nolan.
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