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Coffee Shop and Apartments Planned for Historic Neil Avenue Church

Brent Warren Brent Warren Coffee Shop and Apartments Planned for Historic Neil Avenue ChurchPhoto by Brent Warren
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A historic church building at 1334 Neil Ave. will be getting the adaptive reuse treatment. A coffee shop and apartments are planned for the building, which sits at the corner of West Sixth Avenue, tucked neatly into the fabric of the Dennison Place neighborhood.

Built in 1880, the building was home to the Neil Avenue United Presbyterian Church until 1965, when it was sold to the Columbus Mennonite Church. That congregation remained in the building until 1998, when it sold the property and moved to Clintonville.

J.C. Hanks, of Legacy Management Services (LMS), said he hopes to close on the property this summer and start the renovation soon after. His plans call for a coffee shop in the main sanctuary area and four apartments in what used to be the church’s office and meeting spaces. An adjacent building – once the church’s parsonage – currently holds two apartments, which will remain.

“I hope to preserve 99 percent of that church,” said Hanks, explaining that the sanctuary’s floor will need to be leveled and some changes to the ceiling may be necessary, but that many of the original architectural details are still intact and will be featured in the new space.

Stauf’s Coffee Roasters – which recently opened a cafe in the View on Grant, an apartment building that is managed by LMS – is interested in operating the coffee shop.

“I told Mark Swanson (President of Stauf’s) that I was looking at this unique property that was just unbelievable architecturally, and he came out and looked at it and agreed,” said Hanks. “Once Stauf’s was on board, the project made some sense, so I spent the last year working on it and going to neighborhood meetings.”

The plans were approved by the University Area Commission in March and by the Columbus City Council in May. Multiple variances were required to align the new uses with the city’s zoning code, and also because there will be no onsite parking for the coffee shop.

“I think that location lends itself to walk-up traffic, there are hundreds of rooftops in every direction,” said Hanks, adding that he has also reached out to nearby churches about renting spaces in their parking lots.

Assuming that the closing happens on schedule and there are no issues obtaining financing, he said that the coffee shop could be open by the spring of 2019.

“It’s important to try and save stuff like this if you can,” said Hanks, who is also part of the investor group that is renovating the Zettler Hardware building downtown. “It’s worthwhile, and, because you don’t want to mess it up, you need to take your time on these projects.”

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