By Sandi Latimer
Plans for an older adult community on the eastern edge of the Hilltop are proceeding toward a summer groundbreaking although several members of the Greater Hilltop Area Commission have expressed concerns about the project.
Joe McCabe, of the Woda Group, developers of Wheatland Crossing, told the commission Feb. 3 that construction on a 42-unit complex at 174 – 180 N. Wheatland could begin in the middle of the summer and the residences could be ready for occupancy 13 months later.
The one and two-bedroom units would be low-income housing for people 55 and older, but would not be Section 8 housing, McCabe explained, adding that the target audience is people on Social Security.
Four acres of the Wheatland Avenue project would be developed into a park with a walking trail and access to a bike path.
When the plan was first presented, the development called for 60 units. Commissioner John Roback wanted to know why it was scaled back.
McCabe said his company was able to get funding only for a smaller community.
Since the complex sits back several streets off West Broad, commissioners expressed their concern about mass transit options.
McCabe was quick to point out that the age range in the company’s other older adult communities range between 67 and 73 and noted that many older adults today are quite active. Commissioner Jay McAllister pointed out that his 72-year-old father still does roof repairs.
“It is not assisted living; it is not a nursing center; it is independent living,” McCabe said.
McCabe said his company is also talking with the Central Ohio Transit Authority about the possibility of running a bus back to the development.
Gene Klingler, who lives and owns property in the area, expressed her concerns about the high poverty rate in the area.
“I don’t see it as bringing in a diverse population,” she said.
When questions were raised about older adults raising their grandchildren, McCabe said age guidelines are strictly enforced and regularly checked.
In regards to security issues and the crime rate in the surrounding area, McCabe said the complex would have both full-time and part-time security officers on duty and surveillance cameras would be installed.
Klingler said she believes that the police force is below desired levels.
“I want to see more police. I want to see more income mix. I want to see more housing for higher income workers,” she said. “Because you’re going to build it, doesn’t mean there will be more police officers on the street.”
But McCabe said the city would benefit with property taxes and also the income tax being paid by the construction workers.
In addition, McCabe distributed plans for a proposed community development at 2180 Eakin Road that would have 40 free-standing single-family dwellings on a vacant manufacturing site and asked commissioners to look over them and provide his company with comments.