Work Begins On Large Housing Development At Old Jeffrey Factory Site

Work Begins On Large Housing Development At Old Jeffrey Factory Site
Work Begins On Large Housing Development At Old Jeffrey Factory Site

After three name changes, two developers, and 14 years, a large blank spot on the urban landscape near the Short North is about to be filled in.

Work has begun on a major housing development called Jeffrey Park.

Rebecca Gentile is excited to see construction in the field by her office.

"It's going to liven this area up.  We've kind of been out here alone for a long time and we've been waiting for it," she said.

For more than 14 years, the whole city has waited for action on this 40-acre plot of land just north of I-670.  It once was the site of the Jeffrey Manufacturing Company, which made mining equipment for more than a century. The factory closed in 1999.

In 2000, developer Joseph Recchie drew up plans for Jeffrey Square with shops, homes, and offices. He hoped to break ground later that year. wo years later...then re-named Jeffrey Place... a state grant helped pay for site cleanup. Recchie promised condos, lofts, shops, single family homes, and maybe a school.  The city and state pumped in almost 5 million dollars. But the developer had financial problems. Mother Nature developed it into a weedy field.

"For us, it's a real chance to start with a clean slate," said Mark Wagenbrenner, President of Wagenbrenner Development.

He took over as developer of the area that he's now re-named Jeffrey Park.  He's starting small, with eight acres. On that property he's planned 276 apartments, 76 semi-detached homes, and a community center complete with fitness facilities, swimming pool, and restaurant.   Eventually, though, he expects 1500 housing units will cover the 40-acre site.

He had to speak up, over the sound of heavy machinery as equipment moved earth and dug trenches for the future apartments.

"The world changes and we're prepared to change with it, so we could potentially see some commercial uses here as well," he said.

Wagenbrenner worked with members of the Italian Village Commission as well as the City of Columbus to make sure all the paperwork was ready so he could start.  He says the city granted him a increment build parking structures.  

A TIF is a way to subsidize some development costs now and pay for them later with tax gains expected from the property.

"Two blocks from the Short North is hard to beat," he said.  "So we like our chances. We really should be able to keep the pedal to the medal and hopefully pull this out as soon as we can."

"We're thrilled to see them break ground," Gentile said.

The Columbus Development Department couldn't tell us exactly how much money has been spent on the various failed attempts to develop this land in the past 14 years.  But they did say that taxpayers got none of it back.