Flats on Vine Getting Companion Project in Arena District

August 16th, 2012
Brian R. Ball, Columbus Business First

Nationwide Realty Investors Ltd. is preparing to fill its last big piece of development land west of Nationwide Arena with a building of 120 apartments.

The five-story building would sit on Neil Avenue south of Nationwide Realty’s Flats on Vine apartment complex, which opened in 2010.

The development arm of Nationwide vMutual Insurance Co. on Aug. 28 will outline plans for the apartment project and its neighboring office complex for Columbia Gas of Ohio to the city Downtown Commission. Construction of the apartments could start as early as September and be completed in a year if the proposal secures the commission’s approval.

“We’re just trying to keep it going,” Nationwide Realty President Brian Ellis said of development in an area just hundreds of yards from Nationwide Arena. “By moving forward, we’ll be essentially done with that block.”

The planned 91 one-bedroom and 29 two-bedroom apartments would rise on the south side of a CSX Corp. rail line, across from the 226-unit Flats on Vine. Tenants of the proposed apartment building—dubbed Flats II—would share amenities at the first Flats complex.

“The Flats on Vine swimming pool, fitness center and clubhouse are large enough to accommodate the additional 120 units,”
Ellis said.

A neighboring parking garage under construction will include parking for Flats II tenants. That garage, with 1,496 slots, is expected to open this year.

The development of apartments has soared in recent years, a reaction to twenty- and thirtysomethings hesitating to buy houses. Some fear the value of homes may still decline at the hands of the sluggish economic recovery; others don’t want to be tied down by owning a house if they need to move for a job in another city.

That sentiment has prompted plans for numerous apartment projects downtown, in city neighborhoods and the suburbs. Those initiatives include a 154-apartment complex that Nationwide Realty expects to open in October at Grandview Yard, just a mile from the Flats on Vine.

Rob Vogt of Vogt Santer Insights Ltd., a market research firm in Grandview Heights, said demand for downtown rental housing
remains strong.

“I think that’s a great site for Nationwide Realty,” Vogt said. “They’re at ground zero of where I’d build apartments.”

The Flats II, he said, could prove as attractive as the fully leased Flats on Vine because it is steps closer to entertainment venues and office buildings in the Arena District as well as COTA bus lines.

“Someone could live there and not really need a car at all,” Vogt said. “It has all the elements of urban living.”

The developer has just one more Arena District site set aside for housing development. That land is east of Neil Avenue along West Spring Street, but the company hasn’t disclosed
any plans.


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