Setting the record straight on the price tag.
In light of some recent comments circulating on Facebook, and at the risk of giving any sort of credibility to obvious distraction tactics, we thought it prudent to address the comments directly:
Addressing the Facebook comments that “these groups have advocated for spending $20M on a park”…
Our proposal and petition does not call for, and never has called for, that type of spending on the acquisition of the property or the development of a park. In fact, the petition simply calls upon City leadership to consider an alternate path – that’s basically the extent of it. We also have never called for the development of “just a park” (we call for mixed-use, including residential and commercial). The $20M figure is not in PCPW’s 2020 conceptual development proposal.
PCPW has a single purpose, and that is the mixed-use development of the UMCH property offering class-A commercial space along High St., appropriately scaled residential along Larrimer and a signature green space in the center of the property. We call this the “Worthington Commons” to honor Worthington’s New England tradition of a common space for all citizens and to carry it forward into the 21st century.
Over 1,400 Worthington Residents have signed the PCPW petition. That is 27% of the total votes cast in the 2019 City Council Election (5,175). And while this number may not represent a strict “majority of the community” as some have pointed out, it dwarfs any “pro density” or “pro LC” contingent by an order of magnitude. Our petition advocates for the acquisition of the former UMCH property, and development of a ‘Worthington Commons’. As witnessed at the most recent MPC meeting, there is an overwhelmingly negative response to LC’s paving over the UMCH property.
The conclusion we draw is that the loss of an irreplaceable green space in exchange for 500 to 600 residential units, some via 4 and 5 story apartment buildings, will inevitably result in negative impacts to traffic, water run-off, school overcrowding and our quality of life. This exchange simply does not appeal to a significant portion of residents.
Let’s stick to the facts:
- PCPW’s proposal — now nearly 2 years old and so far completely ignored by most of City Council — includes a theoretical acquisition cost of about $12M, in line with the Franklin County’s Auditor’s valuation. Our petition and proposal calls for the city to freeze zoning and purchase this parcel at fair market value.
- In 2021, the property market value dropped significantly due to LC’s acquisition of the property for a purchase price of just $5.2m. We’ll leave the ethics of LC’s purchase price at half the fair market value, along with the abnormally lengthy purchase option that was brokered by a single attorney representing both sides, for a separate discussion.
- The ‘Worthington Commons’ mixed-use development can be done on a break-even basis. This was feasible even when the property transaction price was ~$12m. It is certainly far more feasible today with a valuation at roughly half that. This is based on the following assumptions:
- with a zoning freeze in place the city purchases the UMCH property at fair market value;
- with resident input, the city formulates an overall master development plan and time table, replacing the city’s dated comprehensive plan for the UMCH parcel in particular;
- the city then sells the commercial parcels along High St and residential parcels along Larrimer, providing one source of revenue (note – given its prime location and with a large green space adjacent, the commercial property will be a solid fit for class-A office – perhaps Worthington Industries);
- the city gains grants from county, state, federal and private sources based on the plan’s natural resource protections, nature education, green space enhancements, etc., providing a second source of funding;
- as the commercial space is developed, the city collects income taxes representing yet a third stream of funding; and
- the city’s development plan, built on resident input, incorporates a schedule that aligns cash outflows (to develop the site) with cash inflows (revenue sources cited above) enabling cash-neutral development over time.
- It should also be noted that PCPW has already engaged with a professional development consultant who leads forward-thinking municipalities through this type of process. He has a playbook, and it has worked for neighboring cities right here in Ohio. Our Proposal is not based in fantasy. We have made efforts to connect City staff and Council to this professional for a free and no-obligation education session so that Council might learn how this is actually possible. To date, City staff and Council leadership have shown no interest in learning from this conversation.
And that brings us to our final point:
Electing Brewer, Duffey, Sutton and Robinson is the only way, in our informed opinion, to put an end to this decade-long era of UMCH inaction and willful disregard of resident voices on the subject.
CORRECTION AND RETRACTION:
This article previously stated that MKSK has worked with LC in the past. This is incorrect. We have spoken with Chris Hermann, Principal at MKSK, and learned that his firm has never worked with or contracted under Lifestyle Communities. It is important to us that we fairly represent the facts and have corrective dialog when mistakes are made, and we apologize for the error. We made a statement without evidence and without validating it, and we own that mistake. In 2014, MKSK presented a comprehensive plan on behalf of the City of Worthington, which was very closely followed by LC’s first conceptual design for the UMCH site. MKSK had no affiliation with LC or their 2014 design, or any other design. We are happy to issue this correction.