As the City of Delaware continues to be a very attractive place to live and attracting businesses remains a top priority, housing has emerged as a major focus for the new comprehensive plan. Community members and the City have expressed a need to provide for a diversity of housing opportunities, explore workforce housing options, and expand mixed-use areas in order to better meet the emerging marketplace and promote long-term sustainability.
At the Delaware Together Steering Committee’s most recent meeting, the committee focused on these critical housing issues. Randall Gross Development Economics, a member of the consultant team working on the plan, has conducted a preliminary residential market analysis to help guide housing recommendations in the plan. Steering Committee members had the chance to view and comment on the initial findings from the analysis. (See presentation slides here.)
Some of the main takeaways are the following:
- Delaware attracts those from Columbus/Franklin County for affordability (relative to other parts of the region), lower income taxes, good schools, and small-town life, among other positive qualities.
- There is significant demand for smaller homes with less maintenance/smaller lots, especially among young people and empty nesters. This includes demand for housing within mixed-use environments.
- There is an opportunity for more housing for local workers (“workforce housing”), many of whom currently choose to live elsewhere and commute to Delaware, which appears to be impacting the City’s ability to attract new businesses.
- Variety and quality in housing styles—as well as walkability—are strongly desired over stand-alone subdivisions which are unconnected and contain largely the exact same (or extremely) similar housing types across many subdivisions.
- There is an affordability gap in Delaware whereby many can’t afford to buy in the community, and may not qualify for low and moderate-income assistance based on their incomes.
- Demand for housing is expected to continue to rise at a steady pace over the next 5-10 years.
At the meeting, the Steering Committee also discussed ideas for recommendations in the topical areas of transportation, public amenities, open space and recreation, and community facilities and services. At their next meeting, the committee will focus on ideas for the draft land use plan. Housing, land use and other recommendations will be brought to the public for review and comment at future citywide public involvement meetings once the Steering Committee has refined alternatives coming out of the last round of public involvement.