Affordable apartments planned for Alrosa Villa site

Mark Ferenchik
The Columbus Dispatch
Alrosa Villa in July 2019

The site of the Alrosa Villa, the once-popular and now-closed North Side music venue where five people, including former Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, were shot and killed during a 2004 show, is slated to become the home of 180 affordable apartment units.

The Columbus City Council is expected to vote Monday on using $2.175 million from the city's Affordable Housing Bond Fund for the apartments to be built at the site at 5055 Sinclair Rd.

The $3.3-million project, called Sinclair Family Apartments, is an effort between the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority and the NRP Group, of Cleveland. According to the legislation, the development would consist of three, four-story buildings providing one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom apartments. 

"A lot of the new affordable housing deals don't have the three- and four-bedroom units," said Scott Scharlach, chief operating officer of the CMHA. "Good to house larger families."

Initially, residents earning 30% to 60% of the area median income would be eligible to live there. For 30%, that would be $17,600 for one person, and $26,500 for a four-member family. For 60%, that would be $35,220 for a one-person household and $50,520 for a family of four.

Scharlach said 45 of the units will have federal housing vouchers attached to them to help pay rent for the poorest residents.

Alrosa Villa was storied music venue

For 45 years, the Alrosa Villa was a destination for local rock and metal fans, hosting acts such as David Byrne, Slipknot, Korn, Quiet Riot, Foghat, Buckcherry, Matthew Sweet, and local favorites like The Godz.

On Dec. 8, 2004, Nathan Gale, of Marysville, entered the club and walked onstage when the band Damageplan was playing and opened fire. Abbott, Damageplan's guitarist and fomer Pantera guitarist, was killed, along with audience member Nathan Bray, club employee Erin Halk, and Jeff "Mayhem" Thompson, a member of the band's security entourage. Three others were injured.

Columbus police officer James Niggemeyer shot and killed Gale.

Scharlach said the partnership is paying $1.3 million for the property, with the housing authority eventually owning it.

In 2019, the property was listed for $1.295 million, including the 10,000-square-foot building, two lots totaling 7.2 acres, the liquor license, bar and equipment. 

The property has been owned by DRJ Family LLC, of Westerville.

Scharlach said the project received low-income housing tax credits through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. According to the city council legislation, the city plans to contribute a total of $4.35 million to the project over two years.

The city council will also take up on first reading Monday the East Franklinton Special Parking Area, where developers would be able to pay fees if they don't provide enough parking for their projects.

According to the plan, residential and commercial developers would have to pay a one-time fee of $15,000 per parking space if they don't meet city requirements for parking. But there would be a cap as to how much a developer would pay.

It would cover only future development, and would not be retroactive to projects already announced.

The city would have no parking requirements for art galleries, artist workspace, retail and offices of less than 2,500-square feet, eating and drinking establishments with no curbside pickup and less than 1,500 square feet, and single-unit dwellings.

There are also reductions in parking requirements for historic structures to be redeveloped, said Robert Ferrin, the city's assistant director of parking services.

"The goal of the special parking area is to continue to meet the goals of the neighborhood plan around historic preservation and adaptive reuse of existing facilities, right-sizing the parking code to encourage development," Ferrin said.

The area where this parking plan would be implemented is roughly bounded by Route 315 to the west, Scott Street and a rail line north of West Broad Street to the north, Lucas Street and a rail line to the east, and the Scioto River and Interstates 70 and 71 to the south.

It's a popular area with apartment developments such as River and Rich, plus Land Grant Brewing Company and BrewDog.

The Franklinton Area Commission and Franklinton Board of Trade supports the plan, as does the Columbus Development Commission.

"It’s going to put the responsibility on the developer to have a plan for parking," said Trent Smith, the executive director of the board of trade. "What I’ve experienced in the past is they knew they didn’t have enough parking and asked for a variance."

Council member Shayla Favor is planning a public hearing on the legislation for June 17.