October 21, 2014

Elyria
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Developer eyes farm in Oberlin

Proposal includes 400 housing units; woods would remain undeveloped

OBERLIN —  A Sandusky developer wants to build 400 housing units on the 126-acre Gott farm north of Wal-Mart and is willing to preserve 33 acres of woods as part of the deal.
The total investment could be $60 million to $70 million, said Paul Bouman, one of the partners in the planned Southwoods Park development.
The development west of state Route 58 would be directly south of the existing Reserve subdivision. Another farm separates the property from the Wal-Mart land 600 to 700 feet to the south, Bouman said.
The development would include 59 single-family homes on 16 acres, 71 condominiums and cluster homes on 17 acres, and 270 apartments on up to 40 acres.
No government money is involved, and there will be no subsidized housing, Bouman said. Even the smallest rental unit — about 1,100 square feet — would have an attached, single-car garage, and 1,800-square-foot units would have 2½-car garages, he said.
An additional 10 acres is set aside for commercial purposes, such as professional offices, but no retail is planned, he said.
“We’re very optimistic about it,” Bauman said. “Oberlin has a lot to offer, and there hasn’t been much (development) happening, and we think it’s a very unique community.”
While the housing market is generally depressed, Bouman said he expects great appeal for the rental units in Southwoods Park, especially as the rise in foreclosures is turning the American dream of owning a home into a struggle.
The rental community would be “very similar” to the developer’s property in Vermilion, The Village at Edson  Creek, where the average income of renters is $50,000, he said.
“They’re upscale but still affordable,” he said. “Most people think these are condominiums.”
Bouman said he and his three partners are willing to commit in writing that the nearby woods will remain undeveloped, including the old Ramsey railroad right-of-way, which would be turned into a bike path leading north to downtown.
The partners are balking at the request that they fund the entire cost of building the bike path, however. The request came from Gary Boyle, the acting city manager and Oberlin’s planning director, Bouman said.
“We’d like to have some other partners in that,” Bouman said.
Boyle said City Council is expected to refer the project to the Planning Commission on Monday.
Bouman said that initially 118 rental units are planned in four-, six- and eight-unit buildings. Rents are estimated at $565 to $925 a month.
Plans also call for a clubhouse with a pool, fitness room and party facilities.
The single-family homes, which would be priced from $175,000 to $225,000, would be adjacent to the homes in the Reserve, one of Oberlin’s newest subdivisions, and the rental property would be on the southern portion of the development.
Bouman said he and his partners have an option to purchase the Gott farm — now planted in soybeans — for $2.2 million.
It was annexed to Oberlin from Pittsfield Township and was automatically accepted as property zoned for single-family use. Rezoning for planned-use development is needed to see the proposal through to fruition.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.