Woda Cooper Begins Development of 97-Unit Affordable Housing Community in Columbus

by Kristin Harlow

COLUMBUS, OHIO — Woda Cooper Cos. Inc. and co-developer Franklinton Development Association have broken ground on Starling Yard, a 97-unit affordable housing community in the Franklinton neighborhood of Columbus. Located at 120 S. Central Ave., the project involves the adaptive reuse of the vacant Starling Middle School. Woda Cooper secured the site through a purchase agreement with the Board of Education of the Columbus City School District. The school, listed on the Columbus Register of Historic Properties in 2022, was originally built as West High School in 1908. It has been vacant since 2013.

In addition to the adaptive reuse component, the project will also include two ground-up buildings with 52 units. All of the property’s units will be reserved for residents who earn 30 to 80 percent of the area median income. Rental rates are projected to range from $400 to $1,295 per month depending on income restriction and size of the unit. Five units will be reserved for those with mobility challenges and two units for those with sight and hearing disabilities.

Primary financial support for Starling Yard is the result of a bond issuance and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits allocated by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA). Syndicator Marble Cliff Capital (MCC) provided equity financing and invested in federal historic tax credits. Ohio Department of Development awarded Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits. Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust provided a permanent first mortgage. Additional funding came from OHFA, the City of Columbus, Franklin County via its Magnet Funds program, MCC affiliate Marble Cliff Communities, the Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus & Franklin County (AHT) and AHT affiliate Housing Action Fund. Huntington National Bank served as bond purchaser and provided a construction loan.

PCI Design Group is performing historic and contemporary architecture. Structure Point is the civil engineer, Providence Engineering is the structural engineer and Prater Engineering is handling mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering. Sol Design + Consulting is the sustainability consultant. Woda Construction Inc. is the general contractor and Woda Cooper’s management division, Woda Management & Real Estate, will oversee leasing and property management.

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