Designed by Moody Nolan, AspireCOLUMBUS will bring 136 affordable apartments to downtown Columbus, Ohio.
Moody Nolan Designed by Moody Nolan, AspireCOLUMBUS will bring 136 affordable apartments to downtown Columbus, Ohio.

Developers took a major step toward redeveloping the United Way of Central Ohio headquarters into an ambitious mixed-use development in downtown Columbus.

The Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) and The Community Builders (TCB) have completed the $4 million acquisition of the United Way of Central Ohio (UWCO) property, clearing the way to develop AspireCOLUMBUS.

The $70 million, 12-story building will combine up to 30,000 square of commercial space on the first two floors and 136 affordable apartments on the upper levels.

“We have put community, opportunity, diversity, and affordability at the core of this plan, and the vision is to remain committed to those principles for decades to come,” said Charles Hillman, president and CEO of CMHA, in a statement. “Our intention for AspireCOLUMBUS is to prove that you can add a new piece to the Columbus skyline while also providing housing opportunities for residents across the income spectrum.”

The team expects demolition to be completed in early 2024, with construction to begin on the new project in early 2025.

"There is an indisputable need for affordable housing in central Ohio, particularly in the vicinity of schools, jobs, and public transportation,” said Lisa Courtice, CEO and president of UWCO.

“Soon, the location that served as our headquarters for more than 40 years will become a beacon of what's possible when investors and developers come together to serve the greater good. We are very pleased that our vision is becoming a reality."

Housing choices will vary from studio to one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. Eligible households are those earning between 80% or below of the area median income in Columbus, which, for example, is approximately $55,550 for an individual and $79,350 for a family of four.

AspireCOLUMBUS is the first-ever collaboration between CMHA and TCB and represents TCB’s first investment in Columbus, one of the nation’s hottest housing and commercial real estate markets. Established in 1964, TCB opened its Columbus office in 2019 and is a leading nonprofit developer of mixed-income housing, completing over 33,000 multifamily homes across 15 states and the District of Columbia.

“TCB looks forward to providing an exciting new future for 360 S. Third St.,” said Jeff Beam, TCB regional vice president for real estate development.

Battelle Memorial Institute Foundation donated the 1.08-acre site to UWCO in 1978 for use as its headquarters. When the nonprofit decided to sell the property, it enlisted the help of a real estate task force consisting of United Way employees, board members, community volunteers, and outside advisers, who reviewed all proposals submitted and provided a final recommendation to the United Way board to accept the CMHA/TCB proposal.

AspireCOLUMBUS will hold true to the history of the site by selecting partners for the non-residential spaces in the building who adhere to the UWCO’s mission and values—neighborhood-serving uses that meet community needs, from early education to minority-owned business development, said officials.

Columbus-based Moody Nolan, the largest African-American owned and operated architectural firm in the country and the recipient of the American Institute of Architects’ 2021 Architecture Firm Award, has been selected to lead the design team.

The funding sources for the new project will include New Markets Tax Credits equity, traditional debt, CMHA funding, low-income housing tax credit equity, and potential gap funding from state and local partners.

CMHA will lead the overall development for AspireCOLUMBUS, including programming, design, and construction oversight based on decades of experience developing and owning housing in Central Ohio. TCB will be the co-developer, bringing substantial experience with mixed-income and mixed-use development and financial structuring from multiple other regional and national markets.