Harvest Rose, the Ravenna senior housing project long stalled by court challenges, quietly broke ground this week.
Mike Bogo of Neighborhood Development Services said seniors should be moving in by the end of the year.
The $4.5 million, 40-unit development of townhomes should take about 14 months to complete, with ground preparation taking place now and construction beginning in April. However, the apartments are being built in stages, with the first eight units expected to be occupied by the end of 2013.
The development will consist of 13 buildings with two to four units in each, for a total of 40 units. A community center and office building also is part of the plan for the site.
Bogo said the development will be restricted to people age 62 and older who are at or below 60 percent of the area's median income. And that restriction is a "hard restriction" because planners decided early on that "they don't want somebody's grandchild who may not have any other place to go crashing on the couch."
"If a person wants to move in and they're 62 and their spouse is 61, they cannot live there," he said. "This is for seniors, period."
NDS first proposed the development in 2008. It is planned for the southeast corner of the city limits, between Summit Road, Lake Street and Harvest Drive.
Area residents sued in 2010 to stop the project, citing drainage concerns. Although Portage County Common Pleas Judge John Enlow initially ruled in their favor, an appeals court overturned the decision and put the matter back before Ravenna's Planning Commission, which approved the plans.
Enlow affirmed the planning commission's decision in October 2012, and the resident filed an appeal with the 11th District Court of Appeals, which is still pending.
Also pending in Enlow's court is an action filed in December to stop the project.
Previously, NDS's attorney, Robert Paoloni, said the legal challenge would not delay construction.
"We're confident in the decision of the commission and the trial court," he said. Paoloni is out of town and could not be reached. David William, an attorney representing neighbors of the property, also could not be reached.
Bogo said the development is drawing a lot of interest from potential tenants.
"We've received quite a few calls from people who are interested in moving in there," he said. "They've been waiting four years, and we finally get to offer it to them."
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