If you’ve been to the Northstar Cafe or zpizza in The Short North lately, then you’ve probably noticed the construction occurring at 937-951 North High Street. The Wood Companies are in the process of adding three additional stories of apartment units on top of the existing building in a manner somewhat unique to Central Ohio. The ground floor retail businesses are able to stay open throughout the construction period, and the neighborhood will gain an additional 24 apartment units in 2012.
We spoke recently with Mark Wood, President of The Wood Companies, to find out more about this new neighborhood development.
Walker Evans: I know that this project has been planned for quite while, but we’ve only recently seen the start of construction. Can you give us a little background on it?
Mark Wood: When we bought the building in 2002, we knew that we wanted to do more than just create the retail storefronts here on High Street. The building was originally a car dealership, and more recently was a medical lab before we converted it to retail spaces. There were no windows on High Street, so we had to remove the stucco facade when we bought the building. We put in structural steel posts through the roof of the building so that additional floors could later be constructed on top of those steel posts. That way we didn’t have to get into the retail storefronts and disturb the businesses that are already here.
WE: So what exactly are we seeing constructed right now with the second phase of this development?
MW: We’re currently adding three additional floors to the building that will house 24 residential apartment units and 10,000 square feet of office space where we’ll be relocating our company’s offices. The back half of the building has been left vacant since the beginning of the development in order to provide 24 covered parking spaces for the expanded project. We’re able to maximize the potential of the parking garage since office and residential parking uses trade off throughout the day. We’ll have a 4,500 square foot rooftop terrace on the second floor facing toward Downtown that will be a shared space for our office and residential tenants. Almost all of the units will have their own private balconies.
Also, you’ll notice that the exterior facade is designed to look like three separate buildings to match the look of some of the other buildings across the street and within the neighborhood. It will have a very classic feel, but with a modern update. The Victorian Village Commission really liked that direction. I think the project will add a lot to the street from a massing standpoint.
WE: What sort of amenities will these new apartments feature?
MW: There will be 17 1-bedroom 1-bathroom units and seven 2-bedroom 2-bathroom units. The 2-bedroom units will average around 1,400 square feet, which is a pretty good size for a rental. We have no plans to convert them into condos in the future, but they are being built with condo-quality finishes… solid surface counter tops, wood flooring and seven-foot tall windows. Our tendency is not to sell unless its to finance a new development. We very much have a long-term vision for everything that we do in The Short North.
WE: Can you tell us a little more about that long term vision with the history of the Wood Companies?
MW: My dad, Sandy Wood, started the company in 1982. He was really a pioneer along High Street in The Short North. I’ve been working with the company now for around 20 years now. We have a real passion for the neighborhood and are very sensitive to the retail mixes that we provide with our retail spaces. This is a really fun project for us.
(More information on the 30 year history of The Wood Companies via ShortNorth.com: “How Sandy Wood Helped Change His World“.)
WE: There are a number of other new apartment developments in the works, many of which contain plans for ground-floor retail spaces. Do you think your development has an advantage to already have retail anchors such as Northstar firmly in place?
MW: Yeah, I think there definitely is a benefit. We’ve got a good mix of tenants here on the ground floor. It’s a very vibrant corner. There’s definitely an attraction there.
WE: Do you have price points established for the new apartment units?
MW: It’s still being determined, but it looks like we’re working somewhere in the neighborhood of our one-bedroom units ranging from $925 to $1200 and our two-bedroom units ranging from $1,600 to $2,000. That gives you a little bit of a range, but nothing is final just yet. On a square-foot basis, our prices will look comparable for the neighborhood. I think part of the appeal will be the boutique nature of this development. With only 24 units it will feel like a tighter community compared to living in a 100+ unit development.
WE: What’s the current timeline on construction and when do you plan on being finished?
MW: We’re hoping to be able to occupy offices in late spring/early summer of 2012, with a later summer completion for the residential units. I imagine that we’ll try to get temporary occupancies for each floor as we finish out the units. So they won’t all come online at the same time, and we can finish them floor by floor. We’ve had a few delays up until this point due to some of the challenges with the building and the roof structure, but we now have the poured concrete second floor in place so everyone will be seeing the structure going up quickly.
WE: Thanks for taking the time today, Mark. Looking forward to seeing the project completed.
More information about The Wood Companies can be found at www.woodcompanies.com.