MOUNT VERNON — Another potential residential development is in the works, this one on the south side of the city.

Highland Real Estate is interested in developing slightly over 200 acres on Newark Road and plans to submit initial sketches to the city’s Municipal Planning Commission soon. Highland will proceed with more detailed engineering specs if the commission approves the concept.

“I like the story of what we are proposing,” Chris Kelly, project director for Highland Real Estate, said. “It speaks to a lot of the concerns coming, especially with Intel and the ripple effect. To be in a position to offer multi-family development that is also multi-generational, I think that is a good addition to Mount Vernon.”

The development is called Liberty Crossing. Plans call for a mix of housing units:

•109 single-family patio homes

•78 townhouses

•252 multi-family residences

•80 single-family homes

“None of those have to be age-restricted in any way, ” Kelly said.

Of the 217-acre parcel, 102 acres are proposed for development.

“It does not make full use of the parcel that is in contract; it only makes the best use of the land for the development,” Kelly said. “We’d really like to maximize the existing use of green space. The existing tree lines we’ll preserve as a buffer between the single-family homes and the apartments. We will preserve the existing tree lines on the borders as well.”

Liberty Crossing sketch plan

Amenities include a 1.5-mile walking path around the perimeter of the development, a clubhouse and pool within the apartment complex, and three ponds west of the residential areas. Shelters along the path will serve as rest stations.

Kelly said there is a 14-month planning process once the commission and city council approve the project. If the application and permitting process go smoothly, Highland could break ground in the fall of 2023.

Once construction starts, Kelly said Highland would develop all types of housing units simultaneously.

“That’s partly because you can build in building efficiencies to save on costs, but it also provides contractors and subcontractors steady work,” he explained. “It also allows the community to watch it develop; it’s easier to visualize. And it’s less of a burden on the community.”

He plans to meet with the Knox County Area Development Foundation to define further the existing needs, projected needs, and pricing. He also plans to meet with area employers to get their feedback.

Kelly said the company has been watching communities outside of Columbus. Three events in surrounding communities particularly influenced Highland’s interest: Intel, Honda’s electric vehicle expansion, and Rickenbacker International Airport’s sizable drone technology expansion. Additionally, a Highland employee is a Knox County resident.

Liberty Crossing auditor site

“Any community within a one-hour commute of these places, they are going to feel something,” he said.

Local leadership also played a role.

“It’s really encouraging to us when leadership in the community really loves the community,” Kelly said.

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