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RECENT NEWS

Updated November 12, 2020

In late September, Continental Real Estate, Inc. submitted a Preliminary Development Plan to the City for the former Macy’s site at Kingsdale. The proposal places an emphasis on the provision of alternate housing options for the community, reflective of current development trends and to complement the existing retail/restaurant and office space at Kingsdale.

The project would be comprised of the following:

  • A six-story building with 104 senior housing units, located on the northwest portion of the site, with a 6,000 square foot restaurant, including outdoor dining, on the ground floor facing Tremont Road.
  • A seven-story building to the east/center of the property, along Northwest Boulevard, with five floors of 383 apartments and two amenity courtyards over a two-story parking garage.
  • *A nine-story building on the southwest area of the sit, with 75 two-bedroom apartments, 50,000 square feet of office space on the top two floors, and structured parking.
    *NOTE: This building site has been identified as a potential location for a prospective public use, subject to the Community Center Feasibility Task Force study process that is currently underway.
  • Eight, two-story townhouses fronting Northwest Boulevard that would back up to the two levels of structured parking for the seven-story building.
  • The two structured parking arrangements, combined with surface parking, would comprise a total of 755 new spaces. Additionally, Continental has secured a shared-use agreement for up to 150 existing parking spaces at the north end of the Giant Eagle Market District parking lot.
  • Relocation of the existing traffic signal on Northwest Boulevard and a new traffic signal at Tremont Road and Ridgecliff Road as an entrance into the site from the west, as well as a north/south internal drive connecting Kingsdale Center through to the Chase Bank parking lot.

BZAP approved the Preliminary Development Plan application on October 19, with the following conditions:

  • The project should include a minimum 50,000 square feet of dedicated medical or professional office space in the Mixed-Use building.
  • The revised Traffic Impact Study, which includes examination of off-site parking on adjacent residential streets among other items, and revised Utility Plan, which includes all required calculations, should be approved by the City Engineer prior to submission of a Final Development Plan application.
  • A site access and circulation plan should be approved by the City Engineer and Fire Division prior to the submission of a Final Development Plan application.
  • The applicant should consider the recommendations of Staff and the City’s third-party architect relative to coordinating the proposed building materials, colors and textures.
  • Details on the 150 available parking spaces from Giant Eagle Market District and the cross-access with Chase Bank should be submitted for City review prior to the submission of a Final Development Plan application.

Following approval of the Preliminary Development Plan application, Continental is required to bring a Final Development Plan before BZAP, which would provide greater detail on what is proposed. A timeline for this next step in the process is pending.


PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT
Throughout the month of November, City Council is considering and accepting public comment on a proposed Development Agreement with Continental for this project. Since a portion of this property is under consideration as the potential location for a community center, the proposed Development Agreement is being drafted to accommodate either of the two options outlined above.

The high costs associated with significant redevelopment projects regularly require City participation to be economically viable. Funds generated by a TIF are typically used by the City to make public improvements to support the redevelopment, such as traffic, parking and other associated infrastructure improvements. The use of a TIF enables the City to capture future property taxes generated as a result of a property’s increased value to pay off any upfront investment.


WAKEFIELD FOREST NEIGHBORHOOD TRAFFIC MITIGATION
View the December 17 Public Meeting Video 
View the November 19 Public Meeting Video 
Presentation | Poll Results | Frequently Asked Questions
The City’s Engineering Division is taking a detailed look at potential traffic and parking impacts the proposed project might have in the immediate area and for adjacent neighborhoods, in particular the Wakefield Forest neighborhood to the east of the project. The division hosted two public meetings for residents in this neighborhood to better understand their concerns and questions, and to begin a discussion of possible traffic mitigation solutions. Engineering Staff is taking that information under consideration as they work to develop a set of potential solutions. Please watch for updates on the next steps in this process.

PUBLIC HEARING DETAILS

CITY COUNCIL REVIEW OF PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT

  • Public Meeting Wakefield Forest Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation – December 17: Follow-up meeting to review recommendations as a result of November 19 public meeting
  • Special City Council Meeting – November 30: Second Reading, public hearing, Council action
  • City Council Meeting – November 23: Public hearing | Meeting Video
  • Public Meeting Wakefield Forest Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation – November 19, 2020: Public meeting to discuss traffic impacts and parking considerations | Presentation | Poll Results |Frequently Asked Questions
  • Council Conference Session – November 16: First Reading, public hearing
  • City Council Meeting – November 9: Council questions, public hearing | Meeting Video | Kingsdale Development Update Presentation | Traffic Presentation
  • Special Council Conference Session: November 2 – Presentation overview of the proposed Development Agreement, Council questions, public hearing | Meeting Video | Kingsdale Development Agreement Presentation

PRELIMINARY DEVELOPMENT PLAN REVIEW BY BZAP

  • BZAP Hearing: October 19 – BZAP approval of the Preliminary Development Plan
  • BZAP Work Session: October 5 – review of Preliminary Development Plan
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

UPDATED October 29, 2020

The following FAQ sheet has been prepared to provide Upper Arlington residents and stakeholders with quick answers to common questions about the redevelopment of the Macy’s site at Kingsdale. If you have additional questions or wish to share comments with us on this proposal, please contact us at city.manager@uaoh.net.

Why are the buildings so tall?
The zoning for the Kingsdale Triangle Planned Mixed-Use District allows for buildings up to 96 feet in height. At this point, all but one of the proposed buildings fit within that envelope – two buildings are proposed at 75 feet, well below the maximum height allowed, the third building is proposed at between 96-115 feet in height. From a planning perspective, we believe this level of density is appropriate for several reasons:

  • First, it is not out of scale with other buildings on Tremont and Zollinger roads – The Ohio State medical facility is 75 feet in height and the adjacent Arlington Crossing condominium building is 67 feet high.
  • Second, the site is located within the Kingsdale triangle and is not adjacent to or even across the street from any single-family homes. The closest single-family home on the Northwest Blvd side of the development is 300 feet away, and behind a row of two-story apartments with significant tree cover. We believe there is one single-family home with a direct sightline to the development, and that home is more than 400 feet away on Trentwood Road. The closest single-family home on the Tremont side of the development is more than 1,000 feet away.
  • Third, density that mixes in residential and office space with existing uses is key to increasing the vibrancy of the Kingsdale Shopping Center and surrounding restaurants, amenities and retail businesses. For retail and restaurants to thrive, you need to combine disposable income and density. We believe this development will help bring that to Kingsdale.
  • Finally, a long-held goal for the City’s commercial districts emerging from the 2001 Master Plan has been to maximize their revenue-generating potential. To achieve this goal, and with just five percent of land in Upper Arlington zoned for commercial use, zoning is in place to encourage more dense redevelopment projects that maximize their income tax and property tax revenue potential, benefitting both the City and the Schools.

Why can’t the existing building be reused?
When the City looked at purchasing the property, we concluded that the existing building is in poor condition, likely has asbestos and has high ceiling heights and column spacing that would make re-use impractical. Continental, the site’s developer, has no use for the building as is.

What will happen to the blue bricks?
The site’s developer, Continental, has heard the interest in the blue bricks and has stated that they will make bricks available to members of the public as a memento. Additionally, the City will explore the possible decorative reuse of some of these bricks if a community center is built on this site.

Why didn’t the City just buy the property?
The City submitted two offers to Kroger in January/February 2020. One was to buy the property outright for $6.25 million, based on an independent appraisal of the property. The second offer was to pay Kroger $600,000 upfront to have them tear down the building and regrade the site, while giving the City two years to pursue redevelopment options and an option to purchase the property within that two year period for a total of $10.5 million (the price Kroger paid approximately six years ago).

Those offers triggered Kroger to pursue a Request for Proposal (RFP) process with private developers. It is our understanding that several developers offered above our $10.5 million offer and agreed to close by the end of the year. The selected developer – Continental Real Estate – has shared publicly that their offer is for $12.5 million.

If a community center isn’t developed on the site, why should the City consider providing incentives to the developer?
Incentives are needed to help with the cost of important public improvements such as structured parking, while also providing a tool for securing significant office use at this long-vacant site. Office space is a key generator of income tax revenue for the City and helps ensure that the area can support retail and restaurants by providing day-time customers.

There are few retail businesses currently scouting for locations. Fast food, banks and gas stations are the only types of companies in the market willing to pay high prices for premium land without incentives. As an alternative to the current proposal, the only financially feasible scenario we could envision would entail a developer trying to place a series of drive-through-oriented retail stores and possible re-use of a portion of the existing structure. An option like this would not meet the City’s zoning requirements and the City would not be supportive.

Given this situation, if the current proposal does not go ahead, the community would likely be stuck in the same place we have been for the past six years, with no change on the horizon.

Why isn’t there more retail/restaurant space identified in the plan?
The proposed development would strengthen the existing retail and restaurant environment within the Kingsdale triangle. Kingsdale already has significant retail and restaurant space in the shopping center, on Tremont, and in the general area. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had been seeing an increase in vacancy rates and a turnover of retail and restaurant tenants in the area. We believe this new development would increase demand and in turn enhance the types of businesses and restaurants in Kingsdale. The addition of several hundred residents would be a huge boost to the small businesses that operate in the area. If a community center is built at the site, it would attract even more people to the area, giving Kingsdale its best hope of attracting new businesses and keeping those already here healthy.

What happens to a community center if the Continental project falls through?
The Continental project would generate approximately $18-$22 million ($1.2 million in new annual property taxes) that could be used to pay off the debt of building a community center. Our preliminary cost estimate for a community center is $45-$55 million. While the City’s financial position is strong, losing that potential source of income to offset almost half the costs for this significant project would make building a community center much more difficult to achieve.

What happens to the site if Continental doesn’t go forward because the Development Agreement is rejected?
Nothing. In the current economic environment, new non-residential development (office, retail, restaurant, and hotel) is largely frozen. Retail and restaurant won’t recover fully for years. This location would not work well as a hotel site. Office sites in the Columbus region that require structured parking have required incentives for decades, and without them a project is unlikely to move forward.

We believe that Kroger will not be willing to take a loss on the property, meaning that they will need to recoup their $10.5 million initial investment plus what they have spent on taxes and maintenance over their six years of ownership.

There are few retail businesses currently scouting for locations. The only companies that we have seen willing and able to pay a high price for land without incentives are banks, fast food and gas stations. As an alternative to the current proposal, the only financially feasible scenario we could envision would entail a developer trying to place a series of drive-through-oriented retail stores and possible re-use of a portion of the existing structure. An option like this would not meet the City’s zoning requirements and the City would not be supportive.

Given this situation, if the current proposal does not go ahead, the community would likely be stuck in the same place we have been for the past six years, with no change on the horizon.

How does this deal compare to other projects in Upper Arlington?
If you look at the amount of TIF dollars reinvested in the project compared to the amount of revenue generated for the City, this project compares favorably to recent projects like the Lane II and Arlington Gateway. If you then consider the impact on the City if a community center is constructed, this would have a very broad community benefit.

The City has previously provided this kind of assistance for both projects across from the Shops on Lane, the Arlington Gateway project and Arlington Crossing on Tremont across from Kingsdale.

How many K-12 students would all the apartments generate?
Contrary to what many people would expect, similar apartment buildings both in Upper Arlington and across the region typically do not generate a large demand on schools particularly if the residential units are smaller in size. For example, the existing apartments on Lane Avenue currently have only three children living in a complex of approximately 100 one- and two-bedroom units. The proposed apartments at Kingsdale would be comprised exclusively of one- and two-bedroom units, or senior living units.

How much money would this take away from the Schools and would it increase my property taxes?
The schools would continue to receive the same property tax revenues from the Macy’s site that they receive today. There would be no impact on your property taxes.

Will there be affordable housing options in the apartments?
The City does not have any requirements related to rents for the residential units. Continental is not planning on targeting a price point that would qualify under state of federal affordable housing programs.

Can you prevent another bank from opening a branch at the site?
Within the proposed redevelopment plans, space is not available for a bank. Most bank branches require a drive through, which would likely require a variance, at which point the City would have strong influence over the design of a bank.

Can you redevelop all the way to the point?
The Chase Bank building and the small shopping center at the point are under separate ownership and are not part of this proposal. While it could be helpful to redevelop those parcels at the same time, an expanded development could be too much for the market to absorb right now. Letting the community absorb the Macy’s redevelopment first is a good outcome under these circumstances.

What impact would this redevelopment have on the Kingsdale Shopping Center?
This project would bring new vitality to Kingsdale and the surrounding area, at a time when retail and restaurants are struggling. While the property is well maintained, Kingsdale hasn’t undergone a significant update in almost 10 years. Vacancies are rising at the center and on surrounding properties. While we expect that Kingsdale will remain viable, all retail is going to need to adjust to a changing market. The addition of over 460 new housing units within the Kingsdale Triangle would represent an incredible influx of new customers and energy for the center and adjacent properties.

What is the process going forward?
We need to split this answer into two parts:

(1) the apartments and senior living; and
(2) a community center and offices.

For the apartments and senior living, regardless of the outcome of the community center discussion, Continental’s proposal is making its way through Upper Arlington’s normal development review process. Continental has not yet purchased the property and has until the end of November to complete the transaction with Kroger.

Continental made conceptual presentations to the Board of Zoning and Planning (BZAP) on October 5 and October 19 and received approval of its Preliminary Development Plan, subject to meeting a number of conditions. Continental’s desire is to have this phase in the public review process successfully addressed for the first phase of its development before they finalize the land purchase. Additionally, they are seeking City approval of a Development Agreement with the City before the end of the year, with Council scheduled to discuss and receive public comment on the following dates: November 2, 9, 16, 23, 30.

The question of including a community center at the site will run through a separate process that is influenced by the outcome of discussions on the broader development. Continental is giving the City time for the Community Center Feasibility Task Force to complete their process and for the City to seek approval from voters at the ballot should the Task Force recommend – and City Council concur – that a community center should be pursued.

For more information on the community center process please visit uacommunitycenter.com.

Should the City be in the business of owning commercial office space?
If a community center is constructed at Kingsdale, the building would include about 50,000 square feet of Class A office space. All signs indicate that the post-COVID office market will place a premium on offices that can provide amenities to attract workers to the office instead of wanting to work from home. We believe that office space surrounded by restaurants, grocery stores, apartments and a community center would fit that model.

If the City is going to own the community center building, it should also own the office space above it. This would provide flexibility for expanding the community center at a later date if needed, give the City control of a building that would house one of the City’s most valuable financial assets, and find ways to support and attract growing businesses in our community.

With all of that said, we are still analyzing the prospect of owning commercial office space, and we take very seriously the potential risks of owning commercial real estate. There will be much more discussion on this topic before any decisions are final.

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