New Development Proposals Will Shape Worthington’s Future
There is no shortage of opinions in Worthington about the former United Methodist Children’s Home site on High Street. A proposal to redevelop the centrally-located site in 2015 was met with resistance from neighboring residents, and a recent update to that proposal has already inspired its share of comments and complaints.
We recently sat down with City Manager Matt Greeson and David McCorkle, the city’s Economic Development Director, to talk about that site and what its development may mean for the future of the city.
Greeson pointed out that the latest proposal calls for more residential units and less office space than the previous one, which is significant because more than 70 percent of Worthington’s budget comes from income tax revenue.
“On first blush, it probably doesn’t strike that balance, in terms of its uses being heavier on the residential side and not necessarily having all of the attributes that we would expect,” he said, adding that there will be plenty of opportunities for the community to weigh in on the proposal in the future, when it goes before the Municipal Planning Commission and Architectural Review Board. “I expect we’re going to have a robust conversation about it.”
Other ideas for the site – like a push to turn most of it into a park – face strong headwinds, given that the city does not own the property and that developer Lifestyles Communities currently has it under contract.
Both Greeson and McCorkle stressed the need to balance the concerns brought by residents with Worthington’s economic development goals and the recommendations of the city’s comprehensive plan, which calls for a walkable, mixed-use development along that portion of High Street.
A second large-scale proposal is also working its way through the approval process in Worthington – a redevelopment of the Shops at Worthington Place that could include a ten-story office building.
Feedback on that proposal has been more positive so far, according to McCorkle, who suggested that its location – at the northern edge of the suburb, near I-270 – is viewed by many as a good spot to add height and density.
Other topics covered with McCorckle and Greeson include the local office market and how it is being affected by COVID-19, the importance of supporting small businesses at this time, and the challenge of building new affordable housing in a place like Worthington.
Listen to the whole conversation here.
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