Homeport Seeks Affordable Apartments Downtown

‘Discovery Flats’ Proposed For Organization's Ex-Headquarters

For nearly 18 years, 562 East Main Street was home to Homeport and the employees who created moderate-income apartments and homes for thousands of residents in and around Columbus. 

Come 2018, the property could be home for working class individuals employed nearby in the Downtown. 

Having moved its headquarters to Agler Road, Homeport is advancing plans to knock down its 1940s era, one-story concrete building a block west of I-71 – replacing it with a 5-story building with 60 apartments designed by Berardi + Partners. The development on eight-tenths of an acre is called “Discovery Flats,” a nod to the nearby Discovery District. 

“Our intention is  to be responsive to the priorities of the community,” said Homeport Interim President/CEO Bruce Luecke. “Workforce housing is certainly an area of focus and Discovery Flats starts to address that issue." 

The statistical breakdown: 

  • Early plans call for 24 one-bedroom and 36 two-bedroom apartments on four floors that would rest atop a parking garage. 
  • The one-bedroom apartments would be 650 to 685 square feet; two bedrooms 850-875 square feet.
  • Income for renting a one-person apartment could not exceed $29,800 a year; two income households could not earn more than $34,080 a year.
  • Discovery Flats residents could pay as little as $300 a month in rent and no more than $760 should Homeport successfully obtain Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) construction financing. 

Housing is considered affordable when households pay no more than 30 percent of their income for rent or mortgage and utilities, according to the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio (AHACO). 

“There is an insufficient supply of decent, affordable workforce housing, and this need will continue to grow,” said Maude Hill, Homeport Vice President for Community and Government Relations. “It is very important that housing be close to jobs so people with transportation concerns are able to get to work.” 

A sizzling downtown rental market is barely touching that need. Of the 2,600 apartments approved and planned for construction between 2013 and 2016, only 130, or five percent, could be considered affordable, according to Homeport Vice President of Real Estate George Tabit. 

“We’re really targeting downtown workers, folks earning a moderate wage and want to be able to live where they work,” Tabit said. 

Following a presentation on Jan. 26 by Homeport, the Downtown Area Commission voted to write a letter to the Ohio Housing Finance Authority in support of Low Income Housing Tax Credit financing for Discovery Flats. With Authority financing and municipal approvals, construction on the building could start in the first half of 2017.

Homeport's former headquarters at 562 East Main Street.

Homeport's former headquarters at 562 East Main Street.