Local officials held a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony on July 20, 2023, to kick off construction of the multi-family apartment complex The Retreat at Mount Vernon. Pictured are, from left, Sam Filkins, vice president of the Area Development Foundation; Knox County Commissioners Bill Pursel, Thom Collier, and Teresa Bemiller; Mount Vernon Councilwoman Amber Keener; Joe Shrock, president of Shrock Premier Custom Construction; Corey Theuerkauf, vice president of land for Rockford Homes; Mount Vernon Mayor Matt Starr; Rob Broeren, Mount Vernon law director; Brian Ball, Mount Vernon city engineer; Carol Grubaugh, executive director of the Knox County Chamber of Commerce; and cliff Conner, excavation supervisor Shrock Construction. Credit: Cheryl Splain

“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.

A Christian ultrarunner who likes coffee and quilting

Join the Conversation


  1. Natural/Nature means ‘Unimproved’.
    ‘Developed’ means nature is Destroyed.
    Perhaps a change to more appropriate terminology is required.
    A month ago the Columbus Dispatch ran a front page article about the Intel destruction. A few pages later, an article stated that early white settlers were SO pleased with Ohio’s rich, fertile, deep topsoil.
    When an educated person looks at a soil map of the world, they are struck at how very little arable farmgrounds are left to feed an increasing population.
    So, keep planting houses/factories on fertile land. We are witnessing the modern day equivalent of Easter Island, a tropical paradise destroyed by human ignorance, now barren.
    But then, this is the land of poisonous nuts, buckeyes, which is known around the world as the state in which Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River burned in the 1950s and infamously in June 1969.
    Retreat? Not bloody likely. Insanity, yes.

  2. Yes, so great to keep more people into our community, but where will they dine, or just eat a lunch?
    The restaurants we do have in Mount Vernon have such an employee shortage; sometimes one doesn’t know if they will get seated immediately or wait until more tables are emptied.
    We need to pay more for the help in the Mount Vernon area, and I am sure there would not be a staff shortage.
    Plus, cannot the powers that be, entice some franchises to come to MV e.g.
    Chick File’ and other smaller places; Roosters, and what about another nice steak place since we lost Jakes?
    Folks do not want to drive an hour to dine after working all day!
    Come on Mayor, get some new blood into the county for all these new home owners!

  3. I sympathize with the commenter above, but commend the city and township for this project. It is adjacent to older Mount Vernon on the east side and will help to defray the longtime shortage of rental housing in this area.

  4. I just hope the rent won’t be sky high like most places already are. Not everyone needing a home can afford $700+ along with any utilities and other possible bills like a cell phone or internet. That’s even with a lot of the jobs around here. And that isn’t including buying food and taxable items.

  5. I agree 100 % that we need more restaurants in Mt. Vernon. There are so few options. We moved here a couple years and practically every time we dine out, it is an hour to find a place to eat that we enjoy. We have 5 plus cities within an hour that have chain restaurants that we enjoy and not much in Mt. Vernon. With all the surrounding communitiee s in the Mt Vernon area there is no reason to have restaurant choice that will appeal to younger people. Texas Roadhouse, Chili’s, Red Robin would be nice optio and keep the money supporting Mt Vernon, no the other cities.

  6. If you build it they will surely come and in a short time will destroy it and turn it into a cesspool of drugs and crime. Thankfully it is close to the Sheriff’s Dept. for quick response when the crime starts.


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