Vision

Village Seeks Input On Redevelopment Plan

The Village of Ottawa Hills wants to hear from residents about a potential project for a new residential community and home for Village offices.

The project culminates four years of study into Village-owned buildings and land on Richards Road. It also addresses resident feedback about housing options outlined in the 2016 Ottawa Hills Vision Plan. The 7.7-acre site is now home to all municipal buildings and equipment, including Village Hall, the former fire department, and police and service department facilities.

Concept drawings for how the land could be redeveloped for apartments and municipal facilities were included in a January 2020 site master plan by OHM Advisors. Using that plan, OHM Advisors subcontracted with DANTER/Economic Development Strategies LLC to study the rental housing market in the Toledo area. The plan calls for 120 rental units: 28 townhouse apartments and 92 garden-style apartments in an elevator building. The market report gives developers data to understand the potential of the site.

The report shows the apartment development is both marketable and viable. Previous planning by the Village has pointed to the need for quality one-, two- and three-bedroom units to allow older current residents to stay in the community and transition out of their single-family homes. Allowing this transition would then enable younger families to come into the community to renew its character.

With the 2016 Vision Plan, the 2020 site master plan and rental housing market study completed, the Village is ready to take the next step: collect public input and seek Requests for Qualifications (RFQ) from developers.

From the pool of submitted RFQs, the Village will ask as many as four developers for formal Requests for Proposals (RFPs), which would include potential designs for the property and project financing. (Soliciting an RFP does not bind the Village to construct the project.)

The Village Council and administration are excited about the project’s potential because it addresses many needs:

  • infusing up to $35 million in new investment in the community;
  • increasing the tax base while not significantly increasing the need for additional personnel;
  • increasing the school’s tax base; and
  • replacing inefficient Village facilities.

The Village has not established a timeline for the RFQ or RFP process, but anticipates both will be completed before the end of the year. In addition, the Visioning Committee and Village Council will hold meetings on this topic after the RFP is developed.

PROJECT TIMELINE AT A GLANCE:

  • Spring 2016: Village hires OHM Advisors to complete the Ottawa Hills Vision Plan. OHM solicited input from community surveys and public meetings, conducted research on similar communities.
  • June 2016: Village Council reviews Ottawa Hills Vision Plan.
  • June 2018: The Village hires OHM Advisors to evaluate the existing Village Hall and adjacent police and service department in terms of building condition, accessibility, efficiency and function. Among the options: renovate existing buildings or to try to capitalize on the location and available land value to leverage new development, including new Village facilities.
  • 2019: The Village hires OHM Advisors to create a master plan for the entire Village-owned site and to prepare conceptual designs for a potential new Village Hall, police department and service department while also leveraging the redevelopment of the property into its highest and best use.
  • January 2020: OHM Advisors presents the master plan and conceptual design for a new Village Hall as well as police and service departments.
  • August 2020: DANTER/Economic Development Strategies LLC submits “An Analysis of Luxury Apartment Development Potential in the Village of Ottawa Hills, Ohio.” This report evaluated the potential to develop a 120-unit apartment community as well as commercial space and new Village offices.

PROJECT BACKGOUND

In 2016, the Village contracted with OHM Advisors to create the Ottawa Hills Vision Plan. Public input was collected to determine community and resident desires and identify future areas of improvement. That input included an in-person Community Summit and a survey mailed to every Village home. Among the plan’s two main conclusions:

  • Residents felt housing choices for senior citizens and empty nesters were inadequate.
  • 40 percent of residents felt the current housing choices were not sufficient to attract young professionals.

The plan identified eight issues or areas of concern as expressed by residents:

  • A decreasing tax base
  • No commercial area
  • Need for a ‘Village Center’
  • Older housing stock
  • Negative image
  • Declining house values
  • Taxes too high
  • Schools in need of renovation.

It also identified nine areas of opportunity:

  • Create a ‘Village Center’
  • Implement tax incentives for housing
  • Add more community events not related to the schools
  • Better use of open space
  • Better utilization of school buildings
  • Update school buildings
  • Expand walking and biking resources
  • Capitalize on location
  • Market to younger families.

That plan resulted in the creation of five “Pillars” that would guide how the plan would be put into action:

  • Create a unique Village Center
  • Diversify housing
  • Enhance the local image and brand
  • lncrease community events
  • Enhance existing services, amenities, and property values.

After a 2018 review of the buildings’ condition, the Village’s Visioning Committee in 2019 recommended the hiring of OHM Advisors to create a master plan for the Richard Road site. The plan would examine options to determine the land’s best use, including a solution for municipal operations, in line with the 2016 Ottawa Hills Vision Plan. Overall, the site is home to the Streets/Service Department (7 employees), Police Department (13 employees) and municipal operations (5 employees).

The municipal building is the most used, as it houses the Village’s administrative offices and hosts council meetings. It was built in 1928 and added to several times over the past 92 years (see additional detail about building’s history below). However, the additions no longer serve the current flow of work within the Village because of several mergers in job duties (as positions have been reduced over the years).

Additionally, the building has poor air quality, is inefficient to heat and cool and has outdated mechanicals in need of repair and updating. Many of these same issues are seen in the Service Department buildings.

OHM Advisors identified several significant reasons why the rehabilitation of current facilities would be difficult and costly. In its January 2020 master plan, it identified several land uses for the site, including:

  • housing units;
  • a community-use space within a municipal building;
  • a large grass area for outdoor community events; and
  • a light commercial area such as for professional offices or a coffee shop.

MUNICIPAL PROPERTY OVERVIEW

The current Village Hall was built in stages starting in 1928. The original building design is a classic Georgian Revival style with columns, quoins, classic pediment and symmetrical appearance. The original building included offices for police, a police day room, jail cells, an office for the mayor, council chambers, and second-floor office/meeting space.

A two-story addition was added in 1937, including two bays for fire apparatus and a partial second-story dormitory for firefighters. That addition complemented the original design, but later additions were less complimentary. Extra space for police operations was added in 1954, including offices, a sallyport, larger holding cells and a second-floor courtroom and office area. A lower-level gun range also was added at that time. Subsequent additions in the late 1960s further expanded the police department and provided a dayroom and add apparatus bays for the fire department.

Due to the various additions and the evolution of space use in the municipal building, circulation and organization is now disconnected and difficult to navigate. Examples include multiple unsupervised entries to gain access. If one enters one of the unsupervised entries, it is unclear where to go or how to get to the destination. Moreover, access for handicapped individuals is not universally accommodated and access to the Tax office on the second floor is difficult to find and navigate.

Addressing these facility challenges and exploring the potential benefits of residential development at the Richards Road location is exciting, and we look forward to receiving resident feedback and moving forward with the next steps in the project.