“We know a house is where a job goes to sleep at night.” — Sam Filkins, vice president Area Development Foundation
MOUNT VERNON — A symbolic groundbreaking on Thursday signals the first real growth in multi-family housing the city has seen in years.
The city, in partnership with Rockford Homes, Shrock Construction, and other local officials, held a ceremony to officially kick off construction for The Retreat at Mount Vernon, a 496-unit apartment complex on Upper Gilchrist Road.
“This is an incredibly important part of our recent development because it’s going to be housing for our workforce,” Mayor Matt Starr said. “We know we are growing … in the Central Ohio area, and these people need to have a place to go home. This will be one of those places.”
“The need for housing in our community is at a critical level,” agreed Commissioner Thom Collier. “We have been underdeveloped for a number of years, and the demand is high. These are the types of developments we like to see with city services, restaurants, and shopping nearby.”
Corey Theuerkauf, vice president of land for Rockford Homes, said the current construction is the first of four phases. Phase 1 consists of nine buildings, including a 6,000-square-foot clubhouse with swimming pool, rec room, covered patio in the back, and a parcel room for Amazon deliveries.
“There is about a 2-to-1 ratio of two-bedroom units to one-bedroom units,” he said. “The two-bedrooms are about 1,000 square feet; the one-bedrooms are about 700 square feet. Rents are comparable to the market area.”
The units have a modern finish and include stainless steel appliances, washer, and dryer.
Theuerkauf said the plan is to start leasing units in January 2024. As leasing nears capacity, construction will begin on Phase 2.
“Our goal is to start second phase development next year,” he said.
Of the complex’s name, Theuerkauf said, “it felt like a place to go on vacation, so we named it ‘Retreat.’”
City Engineer Brian Ball said the development is a credit to Rockford’s engineers and “has all of the appropriate water and stormwater systems to protect our citizens downstream.”
Noting that residents are often concerned about undesirable apartments, Ball said, “This is a high-quality product with a robust design. This is just Phase 1, so there’s more to come.”
Sam Filkins, vice president of the Knox County Area Development Foundation, told Theuerkauf he is thrilled to welcome Rockford to the community.
“We know a house is where a job goes to sleep at night,” he said. “You are blazing the trail, and I am excited to have you as the first partner.
“This is good because it’s not just for housing but also our workforce and general quality of life.”
The city annexed the site into the city in 2014 under an Expedited Type 2 annexation. Under a Type 2 annexation, property taxes remain with Monroe Township. The city gets revenue from commercial and income taxes and water and wastewater fees.
“Being a resident of Monroe Township and having been a trustee for 11 years, the relationship with the township and city has been that we work together well,” County Commissioner Bill Pursel said, noting that residents can vote in both jurisdictions.
“It’s one of those things where any time the township and the city can work together, it’s a good thing.”
Joe Shrock, president of Shrock Premier Custom Construction, said The Retreat at Mount Vernon is “a great thing.”
“Our community needs housing; we haven’t had [a development] in about 20 years,” he said. “It’s good having a great team; people don’t realize what it takes to run smooth.”
Starr agreed it is a great partnership all around.
“With Rockford and Shrock, you know it’s going to be a special place,” he said.