The issue of limited parking space is creating speed bumps for development proposals of the southeast corner of High Street and Lane Avenue, the former location of a Shell gas station.
A development project for a four-story, mixed-use building at 15 E. Lane Ave. was proposed by Elford Development on April 6, during a preliminary presentation to the University Area Commission Zoning Committee.
The development proposal featured three retail spaces on the first floor, as well as 27 single-bedroom residential units on the upper three floors.
The project proposal also included 12 parking spaces, as well as one disability accessible parking space, according to minutes from an April 6 UAC Zoning Committee meeting.
However, during the UAC Zoning Committee meeting, some committee members brought up concerns about inadequate parking space for residents and business patrons.
Similar concerns were voiced during a March 2 meeting, with Susan Keeny, the UAC Zoning Committee chair, saying that the “ratio of parking spaces to units appears inadequate,” according to the meeting notes.
Keeny told The Lantern that the development is still early in the conceptual stages, but that the development is “still underparked.”
“I’m afraid we’re really not much further than we were before,” she said. “It’s going to depend on how quickly and how creative the owner can be at this point in time. Something is going to go there. Obviously, it’s a perfect site for development — there’s no question about it. We have to rely on their creativity and diligence in coming up with good solutions.”
Elford Development was unable to be reached for comment, despite multiple attempts.
In addition to inadequate parking for residents, Keeny said possible first-floor businesses would require even more parking for patrons, but that specific commercial establishments have yet to be decided.
Dick Talbot, a UAC Zoning Committee member, noted during the April 6 meeting that the residential parking requirement has been met, but that spaces still are needed to meet the commercial parking requirement, according to the meeting’s notes.
During the same meeting, UAC Zoning Committee member Pasquale Grado said “the task is to balance out” parking availability and building occupancy, adding that developers must also “balance the building prominence with the need to park residents.”
Elmore Development, represented at the meeting by Jeff Meacham and Paul Kwapich, responded to concerns, saying that many buildings along High Street were built before current parking requirements, and that they expect most business patrons to be pedestrians.
Although parking seems to have stalled the building’s development, Keeny said meetings will continue and added that she feels preliminary reviews are beneficial to everyone involved.
“With conceptual reviews, I really appreciate when developers and owners come before us at early stages to begin the conversation. That’s so important; this back and forth, trying to figure out what is appropriate, both from the developer’s point of view and from the community’s point of view,” she said.
Jake Balistreri, a third-year in hospitality management, said he lives in the North Campus area and has noticed the construction while walking to campus.
“It hasn’t really inconvenienced me that much,” Balistreri said. “It’s just kind of annoying a little bit, but what construction isn’t?”
He said he felt more off-campus housing options might be beneficial to students who want to live closer to campus.
“It’s definitely a good thing. I couldn’t see it being a bad thing. It’s very expensive to find an off-campus apartment right now. More is better,” Balistreri said.
Eric Roth, a third-year in sports management at Ohio Dominican University who said he is considering transferring to Ohio State for graduate school, said he walks by the corner regularly, and that although he doesn’t miss the gas station, he is curious about what will take its place.
“I’m very interested in seeing what it becomes,” Roth said. “To me, it kind of just disappeared and nobody really knew what happened to it.”
He added that he welcomes more off-campus residential options in the campus area.
“I think it’s good for the campus. The more residential units the better,” Roth said. “The more opportunities for students to live near campus, the better.”
Keeny said the UAC Zoning Committee is keeping busy with new projects, adding that the area is “hopping right now.”
“Development in the University (District) is hot right now,” she said. “We are very busy; our zoning agenda is very long … it’s a sign of the increased activity and interest in our area. This is a prime, developable time in our district … and it will continue to grow.”