Galion City Council OKs rezoning that will allow construction plans to proceed
GALION — Work on a new apartment complex on Carter Drive can proceed after Galion City Council approved a rezoning request from the developer.
Council voted 7-0 during its regular meeting Tuesday to approve the ordinance rezoning the 3.3748-acre parcel located on Carter Drive from general commercial (GC) to residential multi-family (RM). Council members voted to pass the ordinance on its first reading after a unanimous vote to suspend the rules.
Canton-based real estate developer Grant Giltz owns the Carter Drive property under the Five Galion Company LLC. During a public hearing about the rezoning request conducted Tuesday, Giltz said he plans to build a 90-unit complex that will feature enclosed garages for tenants. The apartment buildings will each be three stories high.
“We’re going to label it new construction, first-class quality,” Giltz said. “It’s a blend of one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, all market rents. … We’re putting a significant investment into these apartments. We’re putting up $4.3 million to $4.5 million into the project initially.
“We have a lot of vested interest in Galion,” he said. “We were part of the development of the (Discount) Drug Mart shopping center. We built and funded Carter Drive. We have a vested interest in a successful, vibrant project.”
According to Giltz, monthly rent will be $1,050 for the two-bedroom units and $700 to $725 for the one-bedroom units.
Giltz said the initial part of his plan to is to construct two buildings that will house 36 apartments.
“We feel the location is great just because it is conducive to a live-work-eat-play type of location,” Giltz said. “You’re close to a lot of good feeder streets and highways.”
The property is located between Portland Way North/Ohio 598 and the Galion City School District campus. It’s bordered on the north side by the Briarwood Drive neighborhood and on the south end by the plaza that is home to Discount Drug Mart and other retail stores. Arby’s is situated to the east end of the property.
Giltz said he plans to build a sidewalk on the north side of Carter Drive.
Questions and concerns
Four local residents attended the public hearing, with three addressing council to voice their concerns about the change in zoning classification.
Briarwood Drive residents Mark and Melissa Deems had several questions for Giltz, including if there was a possibility that the complex would ever become low-income housing. Giltz answered no.
“Do you have any idea if property values will go up, down, stay the same?” Mr. Deems asked. “We’re right on the back side of that (property).”
“We don’t think we will lower anyone’s value,” Giltz replied. “We only think that improvements tend to be contagious, so as we develop the property — we maintain our property very nicely, professionally — it usually carries on with the neighboring properties as well.”
Melissa Deems questioned whether Galion has the population with the available income to fill a 90-unit apartment complex.
“I guess I look at Galion as middle-class people,” Mrs. Deems said. “Do we really have enough people to rent 90 units at that price? I don’t see a lot of professionals living in Galion that can rent a unit at that cost. We don’t have a lot of big businesses here in Galion that can afford to pay that kind of rent.”
Mayor Tom O’Leary responded to Mrs. Deems’ question.
“I don’t want to get into an argument with you, but I’m going to disagree with you,” O’Leary said. “There are over 1,200 people working at Avita (Health System), the majority of those we lose outside the community because we don’t have housing. What Grant’s saying, he’s from Canton — I’ve heard this before, it’s not just you — he sounds like he has more confidence in the future of Galion than people in Galion. … I think you’ll see people moving to the community because now there’s a place for someone to live where they may be in a comparable place in Ontario or Lexington.”
Council member Tammy Siclair-Erlsten, 4th Ward, said Galion suffers from a lack of suitable housing options, which is another reason that the new apartment complex is needed.
Giltz said he tried to sell the property about 10 years ago, but received no offers. He also placed it for auction about a year ago, but no one showed up for the sale.
Local landlord Richard Faeth also expressed concerns about the proposed complex.
“I just rented one; took eight months to rent it for $500,” Faeth said. “I did not know it was going to be a three-story building. That is going to stand out like a sore thumb. And who’s going to pay a thousand dollars and have to walk up to the third floor? I don’t think so. I just don’t see it myself.”
O’Leary said, “It is a shame that other real estate investors and landlords don’t have the confidence that Grant does. There’s a lot of nice properties in the north end of town up there, real nice lots up there. I’d like to see that developed, too. It ain’t happening. Grant and his family are going to invest here.”
Giltz did not provide a timetable for construction.