Two Projects Would Transform 700 Acres of Farmland West of I-270
Two large development projects with contrasting approaches have been proposed for land that sits on the western edge of metropolitan Columbus.
Dwight McCabe, whose McCabe Companies is redeveloping the Hoster Brewing Company complex in the Brewery District., presented a preliminary plan to the Hilliard Planning Commission last week for 350 acres of west of Alton Darby Creek Road and north of Roberts Road.
Dubbed Alton Place, the proposal calls for a mix of single family houses and multifamily products (including townhomes and brownstones), anchored by a village center featuring a cluster of three-story commercial and residential buildings.
The plan follows many of the recommendations of the Big Darby Accord, the multi-jurisdiction plan created in 2006 to guide future development and protect the fragile ecosystem surrounding the Big Darby Creek.
For instance, about half of the land will be dedicated to open space, including buffers around existing wetlands and along the creek known as Hamilton Run. A trail system will criss-cross the development and connect it to Hilliard Bradley High School to the west and to Alton Darby and Darby Creek elementary schools to the east.
Plans submitted to the Big Darby Accord Advisory Panel last fall stated that about 60 acres of the development would be devoted to commercial uses and 171 acres to open space. The remainder would hold about 150 single family lots and just under 300 multifamily units.
McCabe said those numbers are not set in stone and that his primary aim now is to communicate the overall feel of the development and its walkability. Key to that will be a planned mix of commercial uses meant to cater to residents, such as medical offices, restaurants and small retail.
“Focusing on numbers distracts from the appropriate narrative at this phase of the project,” he added, “which is about placemaking and creating an outstanding neighborhood.”
A press release stated that the project “seeks to establish a refreshingly different development pattern with neighborhoods that satisfy the needs of a diverse spectrum of residents from cradle to grave.”
The second major proposal for the area — from Pulte Homes of Ohio and Harmony Development Group — is a purely residential development featuring a mix of single family homes and apartments.
Located in Norwich and Brown townships, the plan calls for 1,108 residential units on two tracts of land — referred to as Sugar Farms and Renner South — that together make up 369 acres. The land, which sits north of I-70 and east of Alton Darby Creek Road, is in the process of being annexed into the City of Columbus.
A rezoning request for the project was rejected by the Cross Creek Village Civic Association, but will likely proceed to the Columbus Development Commission. The request would then move on to the Columbus City Council for a vote.
Submitted documents show a total of 192 acres of open space, 663 single family homes, and 445 multifamily units.
The Sugar Farms/Renner South proposal also takes the recommendations of the Big Darby Accord into account, setting aside green space around wetlands and streams while preserving some existing forested areas.
It does not go far enough, though, according to John Tetzloff, President of the Darby Creek Association and a member of the Big Darby Accord Advisory Panel.
“In our view (it) does not come close to meeting the requirements of the plan,” he said. That’s in contrast to the Alton Place proposal, which the panel signed off on.
Tetsloff added that it’s not just the Sugar Farms/Renner South proposal that has conservationists and members of the panel concerned; there are a number of development proposals currently in the pipeline, from Plain City to west Jefferson, that could have a large impact on the watershed.