City mulls land swap

The city of Ashland is considering trading a parcel of land it owns on Strawberry Lane for a 10-acre parcel on Clay Street.

The parcel at 380 Clay St., owned by Doug Irvine, was annexed into the city limits in the winter of 2005. Irvine was granted approval by the Ashland Planning Commission to develop 120 residential units on the land at that time, he said last week.

But instead of moving ahead with that project, Irvine said city officials approached him about swapping it.

"It's a pretty attractive piece for the city right now," Irvine said about his Clay Street parcel. "There have been talks about acquiring it for public parks and affordable housing. The city has been interested in that piece of property for a number of years."

The Clay Street parcel abuts an open parcel of land owned by the YMCA, Irvine said.

City Administrator Martha Bennett did not comment on the specifics of the potential land trade. She did say that the Ashland City Council and Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission have both discussed the merits of the swap in executive session. She also said the idea for a trade was not initiated by the city.

Irvine said, "It's a heck of a lot more profitable for me to build out on Clay Street. Any kind of land swap for Strawberry Lane would be one-sided for the city. If it helps out the community, I'm willing to do it."

Ashland owns two, one-half acre parcels on Strawberry Lane that it put up for auction in March. At the time city officials said the proceeds should go towards the creation of more affordable/workforce housing, and thought they could reap $400,000 for each lot. It is unclear if the proposed land trade involves one or both lots.

Ashland officials decided to sell the Strawberry Lane parcels, rather than develop affordable housing units there because its above-the-Boulevard location is better situated for market-rate development, rather than subsidized housing, which city officials would prefer to develop closer to transportation lines and existing services.

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