By Amanda Amsel
The Prairie Township trustees unanimously voted to move forward with the first stage of the development process for the new Big Darby Town Center.
The 3,600-unit residential community that features a small commercial area is part of the Big Darby Accord.
“This is a partnership with Columbus, Franklin County, Washington Township, Prairie Township, Pleasant Township, Grove City, Hilliard, Norwich Township and the village of Harrisburg,” said Tracy Hatmaker, Prairie Township administrator. “The idea for the plan is to protect the water quality in the Big Darby watershed, while developing a conservation-minded community.”
The residential community will be centered on State Route 40, between Hamilton Run and McCoy Run.
“Big Darby Creek is a national state scenic waterway and is one of the great natural places in the world, so we want to celebrate that,” Hatmaker said. “This community will be a environmentally consensus community that will feature large open spaces, walk ability and bike trails.”
It is proposed that the community would also feature a privately owned working farm, where residents can purchase produce directly from the farmer.
“We really want an earth to table environment,” said Mike Higbee, consultant for Development Concepts Inc., the firm developing the center. “We want this area to become a food district for fresh, healthy produce. We have even thought about developing a community kitchen or a nearby restaurant that would use this produce.”
The idea of the community is to get people outside, talking with their neighbors and enjoying the beauty of the surrounding area. It would be a mixture of single-family homes, possibly multi-family homes and larger homes, so everyone has an opportunity to live in this community.
“Affordable housing is very important to us,” Hatmaker said. “However, we also want a step up from affordable housing to keep people in the area as their income grows, right now we lack that type of house in this community.”
Construction of the project is still two to three years out, but Prairie Township officials feel confident they see a light at the end of the tunnel.
“The master planning process started in 2005, so we are ready to move on this project,”
Hatmaker said. “This community will be ground breaking for central Ohio, so we are excited to get started.”
As the development process continues, changes may be made as impacts to the Big Darby Creek are identified.
For more information on the Big Darby Town Center, visit bigdarbyaccord.com.