WORTHINGTON — Following a joint discussion with the Worthington Public Utilities Water & Light Commission, the Worthington City Council voted Wednesday to proceed with purchasing property west of Glenwood Heights for a housing development.

Land referred to by city council members as the Dugdale property — because of its current ownership by Arlene Dugdale — is listed as 52.59 acres. Dugdale has agreed to sell the land to the city for $15,500 per acre, its assessed value, for a total of $815,145.

The council voted in accordance with a recommendation from the Housing Commission, a sub-committee comprising Water & Light commissioners Chad Nixon and Gary Hoffman and city council members Chad Cummings and Amy Ernst.

In January, city council hired the Bolton & Menck engineering firm to develop concept layouts and estimate lot prices. The preferred concept layout divides the land into 91 lots of varying sizes, as follows:

  • 28 executive single-family lots with a width of 120 feet and a total area of 20,289 square feet, which will cost an average of $73,584 each
  • 30 move-up single-family lots, with a width of 100 feet and a total area of 14,137 square feet, costing an average of $52,481 each
  • 19 villa single-family lots, with a width of 100 feet and a total area of 12,958 square feet, at a price of $48,155 each, on average
  • 14 twin home lots, with a width of 70 feet and a total area of 8,021 square feet, costing $30,531 each, on average

The prices of each lot were established based on the estimated costs of infrastructure and land. Cummings explained that as the Housing Commission met to determine its recommendation to city council, Nixon presented a study of all the new housing developments within 20 miles during the last five years. Given Nixon’s research, the prices for the executive lots seem reasonable, it was determined.

Ernst added that the size of the executive lots was determined based on the knowledge that many Glenwood Heights residents bought multiple lots for single homes. The goal of offering some large lots is to ensure one lot per home.

Bolton & Menck’s concept layout also includes a two-phase development plan. Phase One would include 15 executive lots, 17 move-up lots and five twin home lots, all on the north and east sides of the property. The remainder of the lots would be part of Phase Two.

A major concern the city council considered before voting is that the project is expected to cost more than is currently reserved. Previously, the council authorized $1.5 million for the project. However, development of Phase One alone is estimated to cost about $2.3 million.

Additionally, the city will need to invest about $732,000 for stormwater infrastructure and $54,000 for street surfacing. However, council members noted that even if the city were not the property developer, it would still incur these two expenses.

The purchase agreement for the property expires June 10, so the city council needed to take action immediately if plans for the project were to continue.

Council members were mindful of the additional funds needed to develop the property, and they discussed a number of options for budgeting the rest of the cost. The initial $1.5 million was redirected from the hospital reserve fund, and the remainder could also come from there. The city, though, may also choose bonding or another way to raise the additional money.

Nixon pointed out that Worthington’s largest employers consistently cite a need for affordable housing.

Cummings agreed, asking his colleagues, “How long do you want to wait (for a developer to build housing)?

“Our largest employers are telling us they can’t get people to accept jobs here because there’s nowhere to live,” he said.

The vote was unanimous with the exception of council member Mike Harmon, who was ineligible to vote because he was fulfilling his role as mayor pro tempore due to the absence of Mayor Mike Kuhle.