Anderson Township’s board of trustees on Thursday unanimously approved creating a community reinvestment area, or CRA, in the township’s budding downtown area to advance a proposed, $20 million, luxury-apartment complex.
Blue Ash-based Hills Properties wants to build One Anderson Place along Towne Center Way, at the northern part of the Anderson Towne Center, across the street from Anderson’s new downtown hub.
If built, the proposed, seven-story residential development would bring in property-tax revenue and support Anderson planners’ goals of keeping empty nesters and retirees in Anderson; creating a vibrant downtown; and creating housing that appeals to young professionals.
The site has been a thorn in the side of the township’s leadership. Several years ago, construction began there on a public-private development that was to include condominiums, retail space and a movie theater. The project was abandoned in 2009 in the midst of the economic downtown — after the township had spent $6 million on the beginning stages of a parking garage. Its weed-covered foundations still stand.
“We’re very excited about it,” said township Administrator Vicky Earhart, “because high-scale luxury apartments are going to fill a need in our community. One of the things we hear from our residents is that empty nesters would love to downsize, but we just don’t have a good stock of apartments, and certainly luxury apartments in the township.
“We’re about 87 percent single-family homes. People really want high-quality apartments,” Earhart said.
The new development is planned within walking distance to the Anderson Towne Center retail development, which houses a Macy’s and Kroger, according to a press release from the township. Also nearby, an old Kmart store space is in the process of being redeveloped to include a 10-screen Carmike movie theater and new retail and restaurants. Also slated for construction in the area is a 50,000-square-foot addition to Kroger, additional development at the intersection of Beechmont Avenue and Wolfangel Road, and expansion of a nearby office development.
Zoning for Kroger and other properties being developed in the downtown area call for parking in back and a lively sidewalk and storefront atmosphere in anticipation of foot traffic.
Anderson’s reinvestment area would provide Hills Properties a 15-year abatement on up to 75 percent of property taxes, according to Earhart. Property taxes are Anderson’s main source of revenue.
The next step in the process, Earhart said, is for Hamilton County to review the plan and, if the CRA is approved, submit a formal request to the Ohio Development Services Agency. The agency then reviews and either approves or asks for modifications to the plan. Earhart said Hamilton County commissioners are scheduled to review the plan Nov. 4.
If all goes according to plan, One Anderson Place would be the township’s first CRA, Earhart said.
Ian Guttman, Hills Properties vice president, said the CRA was a crucial piece of his company’s proposal. Because the property is on a steep hillside and because the abandoned parking-lot foundation must be removed.
“The property is so challenging to develop that without an abatement of this nature there would be no way to make a new development feasible financially," he said.
At Thursday’s meeting, Guttman presented “inspirational” images and plans — showing the kind of look the company has in mind. He said actual architectural plans (by M+A Architects) would be done following the CRA’s approval. Guttman said Hills has a purchase agreement in place with the JFP Group, the intended developer of the abandoned project that still owns the site.
One Anderson Place would include a salt-water swimming pool, gym facilities and other social amenities. Apartments would include designer lighting, granite countertops, full laundry rooms, and high-end flooring. Guttman said ground could break as soon as the second quarter of 2016.
Anderson’s head planner, Paul Drury, said the township has been looking for years to develop the site. “For the elected officials and the planning department,” he said, “when the other project fell through, it’s always been their intent to find a developer to take over that site.”
The Hills Properties proposal, Drury said, is in line with Anderson’s goals of having an urban-style downtown. “Our future land use plan and the downtown plan calls for a true mixed-use development, and this [complex] … would add the residential component to the downtown area.”