Couple Excited to Build New Home in East Franklinton, Ahead of Big Developers
Kate McCanna and her partner, TJ Manfrass, recently received approval from the East Franklinton Review Board (EFRB) to do something that hasn’t been done in the neighborhood in quite some time — break ground on a new residential building.
If they are successful, they hope to start construction next spring on a three-story home with a small retail space on the first floor. The couple will be beating a long list of developers to the punch in the up-and-coming neighborhood.
“We fell in love with the area and the energy in East Franklinton,” said McCanna. “We like going to Strongwater, Rehab Tavern, the markets at 400 West Rich… even just driving through on a weekday you see energy — people making art.”
When McCanna and Manfrass started looking for an existing building or a lot to build new on, though, they quickly realized that most real estate in the neighborhood is not for sale, having already been snapped up by developers or speculators.
After a month of looking with no success, they discovered a connection that led to a breakthrough. A friend’s second cousin had grown up in the area, owned a number of lots, and was not interested in selling to either the city’s land bank or to a big developer. McCanna and Manfrass got to know him and eventually worked out a deal for his lot at 509 West Chapel Street.
The parcel sits on the southwest corner of Chapel and Mead Alley. The land bank owns a dozen lots on the same block, while across the street is the southern edge of Nationwide Realty Investors’ holdings in the neighborhood — 74 parcels that the developer acquired as part of its purchase of the former Byers Chevrolet site on West Broad Street.
Although neither the city nor NRI are ready to share plans for how they might develop their land, McCanna said that she and Manfrass are ready to take a risk and build, despite not knowing what will eventually happen to the vacant land adjacent to their new home.
“It’s been a hard thing to put in all this effort without having an idea of what’s going to go there, but the support has been great,” said McCanna, mentioning support from both the neighborhood in general and from the EFRB, which she said has been enthusiastic about the prospect of new housing being built in the neighborhood.
Jim Sweeney, Executive Director of the Franklinton Development Association — who pointed out that his organization, in partnership with Homeport, built seven new homes near Dodge Park in 2005 using low-income tax credits — is nevertheless excited about the private investment in the neighborhood.
“I love seeing people taking chances down here,” he said. “I have a feeling this one will pay off nicely for them, plus it’s a really cool design.”
McCanna said that their hope for the building — which was designed by Manfrass’ father, Ted Manfrass (TGM Architects) — is that it fits in with the existing fabric of the neighborhood, taking cues from both its industrial and residential structures.
“Living in Italian Village, we see a lot of new, super-industrial buildings going up, and I think a lot of them will eventually feel kind of dated,” she said. “We wanted to fit into the arts district, and we didn’t want an industrial building without some traditional elements.”
The sides of the house will be made of corten, a metal that will turn to a uniform rust color after just a few months of exposure to the elements. McCanna plans to grow veggies and succulents on the two levels of balconies, which will feature skyline views, and has already spoken with an artist friend about painting a mural on the first floor.
Although plans to get the house LEED certified fell through due to the cost of official certification, the couple plans to use as many green practices as possible in its construction. Manfrass is a general contractor, and will be doing much of the work himself. Given final approval and the acquisition of all the necessary permits, McCanna said they hope to break ground in the spring.
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Rendering by JPN Studios, LLC.