Senior Housing Development Denied in Ft. Mitchell
A proposal to construct a senior housing development on a more than 12-acre site off Grandview Drive in Ft. Mitchell was unanimously rejected by city council on Monday night.
The plan had received overwhelming approval from the Kenton County Planning Commission, in a 13-1 vote, despite Planning & Development Services of Kenton County recommending disapproval.
The site sits just east of Beechwood Road and is zoned as single-family residential and professional office. Developer Woda Cooper and property owner Mike Kegley hoped to see a map amendment to change the site to multi-family residential zoning.
Kegley, who developed a series of office townhouses nearby had originally planned to construct more of those offices on this site, but in the decade-plus since, he has been unsuccessful. At the planning commission meeting in May, it was argued that particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, needs for traditional office space were severely diminished and that the site is no longer needed for commercial use.
It was also argued that there is a need for senior housing in the Ft. Mitchell area.
But Ft. Mitchell, which is currently undergoing a thorough review of its zoning, officially wants the site to maintain commercial zoning.
In her motion to reject the map amendment request, Councilwoman Vicki Boerger stated that the city still has the site identified as commercial, expressed concern that there was no way to guarantee that the site be restricted to senior housing, and argued that office space is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2025.
She also highlighted that PDS staff recommended denial of the change and that the planning commission went against that recommendation.
Woda Cooper Development had hoped to construct a four-story building with 88 units of senior housing and other amenities, The River City News reported in May. The proposed development had been branded as Mitchell's Crossing.
In 2019, other developers proposed a market-rate apartment project for the site, which also won approval from the planning commission but was then rejected by city council.
Mayor Jude Hehman invited Kegley, the property owner, to participate in the zoning process known as Z21 "to work on the best use for your land." "I really think that's important to this council and it's certainly important to me," Hehman said.
Councilman Greg Pohlgeers also offered, on behalf of the city, "anything we can do to market the property." He also suggested that tax incentives could be incorporated as part of that prospect.
-Michael Monks, editor & publisher