In 16 months, the city of Gahanna has seen four commercial developments after years of little or no major commercial construction. City officials say that’s because of a long-term plan to promote commercial real estate development.
This week, a 262,500-square-foot speculative warehouse was announced is the largest new construction in Gahanna in 15 years. And the project – spearheaded by developer Fed One and property owner Value Recovery Group – will be the third largest structure in the city.
In 2016, Gahanna created a 10-year plan to promote diverse real estate development in the city. The plan included adding 800,000 square feet of industrial space and 700 more housing units, especially new apartments and senior housing – something residents want, said Anthony Jones, the city’s director of planning and development.
Part of that strategy involved a host of incentives formulated last year, including one for site preparation costs and another for assistance with annexation into Gahanna. Both are intended to ease the process for current landowners to redevelop their sites.
About 55 percent of the city’s land is residential, and of that, about 88 percent of the residential land is single-family homes. Most of the apartment stock in the city is at least 20 years old, Jones said.
“We need to have more options for this housing, and a plan will recognize what locations in the city are best suited to accommodate that,” he said.
Kenny McDonald, president and CEO of Columbus 2020, said suburbs play a role in spurring real estate development, which has gained importance as the population swells.
“We have to be more prepared than ever, physically, and only about a quarter of our cities have a land use plan,” McDonald said. “The population growth factor is more important than ever … because there’s a cocktail of factors that makes finding workforce harder than ever.”
There are challenges. For example, a tax increase intended in part to support infrastructure investments failed at the ballot last year. Mayor Tom Kneeland said it would be back on the ballot, “Not if, but when.”