Over the past two months, the Delaware Together Steering Committee, Planning & Community Development Department staff and consultant team have been focused on preliminary land use and economic analysis. This technical work is critical to the plan and, along with public input, will provide a strong foundation for drafting recommendations. Following is a summary of key findings to date.
The team has prepared an existing land use map, which shows the location of current land uses within the planning area as well as a break down of land use by type. The Steering Committee has engaged in surveys and discussions around preferred building and development types, and at their most recent meeting, had the opportunity to participate in an activity to begin to explore potential future land uses in targeted growth opportunity areas. Some of the key ideas that are emerging from that work include the following:
- There are significant areas within the planning boundary, especially to the North, that should not be targeted for development within the time frame (10-15 years) of the plan; these areas should be remain as-is (for agriculture/open space, generally) during the planning time horizon.
- Planning for thoroughfares and identifying opportunities to improve connectivity between subdivisions and across the city should be prioritized.
- Within emerging (new) neighborhoods nodes should be developed, and land reserved for future civic and potentially some business uses, as well as community scale parks and open space.
- A variety of single family attached, and detached housing styles are generally desired. While traditional styles are preferred, variety in architectural style should also be encouraged.
- Alternative housing options at different price points should be encouraged but location, scale, design quality and walkability are all critically important. This may include products that are not prevalent in the market currently that are suitable to different demographics, such as older adults, students, and the workforce. (Note: a full residential market analysis will be completed as part of the comprehensive plan that will address this issue.)
- In downtown and historic neighborhoods, existing lot and block coverage provides a good guide for future infill development, with the possibility of increasing housing density in and around downtown.
- Residential uses in upper stories in the older parts of the City provide an opportunity for new housing types and urban living that appeals to certain demographics.
- Improvements to community connectivity—both physical (e.g. green network/bike trails) and social (interactions across neighborhoods)—is desired and there may be an interrelationship between the two.
- There is a desire for significant redevelopment along the southern portion of South Sandusky Street.
- The character of the southwest industrial area must recognize the changing nature of industry (more “boutique,” R&D, cluster automotive, innovation, etc.) and consider land use compatibility. This may mean there is an opportunity for a greater mix of uses which might include workforce housing opportunities as well. (Note: A southwest industrial area opportunities assessment will be completed as part of the comprehensive plan that will address this issue.)
- There is significant potential in the southeastern portion of the planning area for new residential and mixed-use development with different development types and different building types
- There are a number of opportunity areas within traditional neighborhoods close to the downtown core, where infill and redevelopment could improve livability, provide new housing options, and incentivize a mix of commercial and other uses to create a greater sense of place.
- There is an emerging consensus around the desire to see riverfront re-development in the near east side to take advantage of proximity to this resource as well as to Downtown as well as to explore re-development opportunities for the near east side.
The staff and consultant team and are now working to synthesize ideas shared by Steering Committee members to begin to shape options for a future land use plan. The public will also have the chance to weigh in on future land use through upcoming engagement opportunities.
At the same time that the land use analysis has been underway, a baseline economic analysis is near completion. This analysis will establish existing conditions and trends that will provide a framework for the plan. Following are a few key findings from this analysis.
- The population has been rapidly growing. Between 2000 and 2010, the City of Delaware has grown by almost 10,000 people (nearly 3.8% each year) and between 2010 and the end of 2018 has grown by 6,500 people (nearly 19% over that time period). Between 2000 and 2018 the city has grown by about 16,000 people or by about 60% -it has doubled in population since 1990.
- In 2015, Delaware had a total of about 14,900 jobs, a 10.4% increase since 2010. Only about 20% of these jobs are held by Delaware residents, as 80% of residents commute out of the city for employment, mostly to the City of Columbus (30%).
- Key employment sectors in Delaware include manufacturing (though it is changing in nature from heavy manufacturing to “boutique” and R&D), health care, education, retail trade, tourism, transportation, and administrative services with the largest private employer being Ohio Health, employing 1,500 people.
- The City has about 1.8 million square feet of industrial space with an extremely low vacancy rate. Given Delaware’s position in the Central Ohio region and the fact that the southwest area has about 2000 acres available for new development potentially, the City has an opportunity to capitalize on this unique combination of land, infrastructure, business heritage, and a municipal airport to further enhance economic development activities and employment opportunities.
- There are a variety of housing options at various prices available for Delaware residents located in distinct neighborhoods built through the city’s history, but it is uncertain whether existing housing types match future demand. Changing demographics, employment and economic development goals and objectives, and ensuring a diversity of housing stock seem to indicate a need to consider additional types, mixes, and developments. (Note: a full residential market analysis will be completed as part of the comprehensive plan that will address this issue.)
Next steps will be to develop a future land use plan and initiate an assessment of the southwest industrial area and a housing market analysis.