LIMA — A potential new development where the old Longfellow School once stood has caused concern for some local neighbors.
Mike Blass, operating through Tetrad Partners LLC, has plans to develop a set of four triplexes on the currently empty almost-acre of green field space at 1105 E. Market St. if all the necessary processes are pushed forward.
An obstacle for the proposed build, however, has been the zoning of the lot. Currently zoned as a Class I Residential district, Tetrad applied for a special use permit to allow multi-family units on the lot, which was granted to Tetrad by the City of Lima’s Board of Adjustments on May 27.
According to a communication sent to Lima City Council, the board “weighed the proposed inclusion of garages with each residential unit along with the onsite parking and access plans and elected to approve the request based on the overall benefit of the development.”
Neighbors have expressed concerns related to increased traffic in the area and availability of parking, with some labeling the development the next “snake pit.”
Blass said the current development plan aims to build 12 two-bedroom townhome rental units with attached two-car garages at market rate pricing set between $800 to $850 per month. An additional nine-space parking lot will provide room for visitor parking.
“They’ll reach that part of the market that’s been demanding a little bit more upscale housing, or working class housing, that have more modern amenities and are located in a convenient location,” Blass said. “We think there’s a market out there, and we’re trying to fill the niche that exists in that market.”
While the space at 1105 E. Market now stands empty, it once held the old Longfellow school, which closed in 1978 and stood mostly empty for three decades — outside of being used as storage — until it was torn down by the city in 2007.
The lot is still technically owned by the City of Lima through its land bank program, and Tetrad agreed to take the lot, at a $645 price tag, if it can be used for Tetrad’s $950,000 project.
Blass said the low cost of the land helps make the triplex’s rental rates more competitive in Lima. In the long run, he said he’s hoping others looking to invest in Lima’s housing market will take notice and realize that creating higher-quality housing in Lima is both possible and profitable if they can identify the right opportunities.
Blass has been involved in a number of similar projects throughout Lima, including an ongoing project set to turn the former Lost Creek Golf Course into a number of mid-range housing developments complemented by public green-space and running trails.
“I do understand residents’ concerns. Nobody wants any change in their own backyard, but our intention is to make a physical improvement to that neighborhood,” Blass said.
If Lima City Council disapproves of the project at 1105 E. Market St., the legislative body has the ability via ordinance to reverse, alter or amend the special use permit within the next month.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.