Housing Development to Surge in 2019 in Columbus
For years, community members and city officials have had one major thing on their minds: Housing.
Fortunately, 2019 is shaping up to be a year where thoughts, dreams and words are put into action regarding the construction of affordable housing.
In the next 18-24 months, Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley said that approximately 350-400 new doorways will be added into the community, most falling under the affordable workforce housing classification. In recent years, the city has only been able to add about 75 new doorways annually, he added.
Columbus City Administrator Tara Vasicek noted her excitement regarding the anticipation of at least five substantial housing developments that are on the books or slated for real construction process this year.
Three of these developments are benefiting from the city capitalizing on a state-funded Rural Workforce Housing Grant. The $850,000 grant awarded in summer 2018 was the largest workforce housing grant distributed by the state Department of Economic Development.
“That $850,000 created about a $1.9 million fund to build workforce housing in Columbus,” she said. “From that, we asked for proposals from developers, people that wanted to build projects (to benefit) from that money.”
Seven projects applied, she said, with three being awarded grant funds. She noted that the funds are a low-interest loan, meaning the $1.9 million fund is actually a revolving loan fund the city will be able to bank on for housing moving into the future.
Projects in the works that are benefiting from the grant include the Farmview, The Flats development and SERC LLC, developments.
“It will truly change the game, which we have been working to do forever,” outgoing Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce President K.C. Belitz said during a recently held Industrial Leaders Breakfast gathering. “So, we really think it will make a big difference for you all (business leaders) recruiting people who want to live here.
“And that is a big deal because if they (employees) are driving in from an hour and a half away, the odds are not as good that you (business leaders) will be able to keep them. And we know today that there are some people doing that (commuting) because of legitimate reasons because of the housing market. So, that is something that’s going to change.”