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Five-Story Mixed-Use Apartment Building Proposed at High & North Broadway

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Development Five-Story Mixed-Use Apartment Building Proposed at High & North Broadway

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    Elizabeth Lessner

    here’s the catch: to apply for a liquor permit you need a signed lease or proof that you own the property. then it goes to vote and you may or may not get the permit based on that vote. it’s a big risk to buy a building or sign a lease with no guarantee of a liquor permit.



    Gotcha. I thought that might be the case, but it’s been a while since I’ve covered this stuff. Would it be possible for a restaurateur to sign a lease contingent on getting a permit? If so, I imagine the vote issue would still be a pretty significant hurdle, but … well, a girl can dream. (Is it obvious that I reallyreallyreally want something to happen at this spot?)

    ETA: Or perhaps some deep-pocketed developer could take on the job first and then lease out the space? That seems to be the scenario under the Glimcher plan … maybe if the credit markets loosen up, someone would be amenable to taking it on.


    Elizabeth Lessner

    I’ve been looking to open up shop in Clintonville for almost a decade. The red tape is just too daunting. My restaurants are funded by banks, you can’t apply for that bank loan to purchase that liquor license until you have that address for that new business.

    Clintonville needs to open for business if they want restaurants to move in. There is enough risk involved in opening a restaurant without the added hurdle of managing a ballot initiative, organizing a campaign and finding a landlord willing to draw up a lease based on a contingency that no one can predict. Borrowing money to pass legislation in Clintonville seems silly to me personally.

    Most of us choose to set up shop where we feel welcomed and supported by the community. Clintonville regulations don’t exactly send out that vibe to restaurateurs holding liquor licenses so we set up shop elsewhere.

    I should add that I live on the edge of Clintonville (north Campus technically) and I shop and support Clintonville. The current laws just frustrate the hell out of me.



    I always thought that intersection (N Broadway & High) was the southeast corner of the dry area. I know the Pizza Hut across the street from Kroger that’s now a Starbucks had beer, as well as plenty of places on Indianola north of N Broadway. How far down does the dry area go? Mozarts/Giorgio/old-Talita’s all have liquor licenses…

    As far as a music venue: that’s my favorite brain-soother when I can’t sleep, imagining all the cool stuff I’d do if I owned that building.



    The whole thing is pretty maddening, sigh.

    Anyway, I found a more recent story on the site. It sheds more light on some of the back-and-forth that’s been going on:

    Sense of History
    Proposed Clintonville Neighborhood Plan lacks historical perspective, some residents said.

    The proposed Clintonville Neighborhood Plan lacks one key quality, some people said last week: a sense of history.

    While there has been much dialogue during the past 11 months regarding the plan, one group of advocates has been silent on the issue — until the Nov. 18 Clintonville Area Commission Planning and Development Committee meeting. It was held at Clinton Heights Lutheran Church, 15 Clinton Heights Ave.

    “It seems to me Clintonville has nothing unique to bring people here,” resident Ann Woods said.

    She reminded the 25 or so residents gathered that, not so long ago, renovation of the former Clinton Theatre was a real prospect for the corner of North High Street and North Broadway.

    “This is one of the few last structures remaining that is really unique,” she said, as she suggested perhaps holding a contest or competition for redevelopment of the theater site could be a pivotal development.

    “I think, it could be an exciting thing for the community, and I would like to see that put back into the plan,” Woods said.

    One resident said she recalled back approximately five years ago, when developer Glimcher Realty Trust expressed an interest in developing the entire block, but the plans never came through. “Everyone lost,” she said.

    “The developer lost a lot of time, money and effort. The community lost, because the block is still an eyesore, and the business community got nothing,” she said, adding she thinks that many people in the community are not aware that the site once was a theater.

    “I was amazed,” she said. “The more I looked into it, the more potential I saw.”

    The theater dates back to 1927, and, “It was practically the first building in Ohio to have air-conditioning,” she said.

    “Old-timers talked about it and said it was a classy place, with a specially built organ, first-run movies and an iridescent dome that sparkled and shimmered, like an abalone shell.”

    While she and other advocates spoke of the possibility of restoring the ceiling and floors, and replacing the mechanicals, Clintonville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ernie Hartong posed the question: “Who decides if a building is a landmark of a historic structure?”

    “My understanding is there are some real structural issues with that building,” he said.

    “If there are better uses involved, that would involve demolition of that building.”

    “I think, if you are going to include the theater in the plan, you need to present both sides of the issue, because both sides have such strong opinions,” resident Mary Beth Hirsch said.

    Committee members and city staff agreed, with some modifications.

    “I’m not sure I would want to make it specific to the theater,” Gawronski said.

    “Rather, I would like to explore options for historical buildings through a historic preservation plan. In working with the property owner, we work at reusing old buildings.”

    “I think it is a great idea, and the key is to get involved early and with openness and transparency between the property owner and the developer,” said Paul Harris, District 6 representative and committee.

    He cited the redevelopment of the site that is currently home to Cord Camera, 4784 N. High St., as a great example of cooperation.

    “That is an iconic Clintonville structure,” he said.

    However, Harris cautioned the economy could be a factor in making a possible development project work.

    “I think trying to find that magic, one-of-a-kind development to make that work, may be more difficult, because of the unique footprint,” he said.

    “I think we would all like to save the theater, if possible and if it is viable.”

    District 8 Representative John DeFourny reminded those gathered of the neighborhood covenant.

    “The covenant is why you have not seen development cross over the alley for 40 or 50 years,” he said.

    “It’s not so much that you tear down the theater or not, it’s what is going on around the area.”

    “Yes, indeed, there is a covenant,” Woods said. “But, there were 2,000 people in this area who signed a petition to preserve the theater.”

    “It cannot be that ambitious,” she said. “There should not be knocking down houses.”

    Hartong responded: “2,000 people may have signed a petition, but no one opened a checkbook to buy the property.”

    “Instead of a design contest, the people who have a historic interest need to step forward and do the proactive work and investigation now,” CAC Chairwoman D Searcy said.

    “What do we really know? A lot of people have opinions, but not a lot of facts,” she said.

    “It will never move forward unless there are advocates pushing it forward.”

    “In times like this, a smaller scale development may have more viability, but it should show the options,” Hirsch said.

    Woods cited two examples of renovated theaters — one right in the neighborhood as the Columbus Sports Connection and a renovated theater in Uptown Westerville.

    “It’s not impossible,” to redevelop, she said. “The thing about theaters and movies in the Depression is, they never went through the Depression. People went to them to escape for a while.”

    Commissioners will vote to approve or reject the neighborhood plan at their regular meeting Dec. 4. Following the commission’s vote, the plan will go to the Columbus Development Commission, then to Columbus City Council for approval or rejection.

    “The earliest Council will see it is in January,” Columbus Department of Development Senior Planner Christine Palmer said.


    Elizabeth Lessner

    All of High Street in Clintonville is actually dry, except for the locations that have managed to get a ballot initiative passed. Many licenses are added in as ballot initiatives (ie. O’Reilly’s pub recently added Sunday liquor sales but already held a grandfathered liquor license). Some licenses were grandfathered in (ie. Studio 35 Cinema). Each address has applied on it’s own to get liquor sales if they were not already grandfathered into their locations.



    lizless wrote >>
    Each address has applied on it’s own to get liquor sales if they were not already grandfathered into their locations.

    OK – *that* makes sense. Thanks for the info.
    However: SO stupid. I’m a long-time resident of Clintonville (south), and I would vote as early and as often as possible to get rid of the whole dry-thing altogether. & I can’t imagine I’m the only one who feels that way.



    According to the archives I was looking at (I’ll spare you another quote block), Kroger tried and failed in the past, but won rather handily in this election, as did several other liquor issues. Looks like the tide is turning on this one.


    Elizabeth Lessner

    Hell, I’d move the half block to Clintonville if I could vote to remove the ban! I live one street from the border. Unfortunately, many people have applied for licenses and have had them rejected so clearly enough people out there are voting no on allowing alcohol into Clintonville.

    Scottie McBean still sits empty after their application was denied by voters several years ago. They were simply hoping to sell beer to enhance their coffee sales, the neighbors didn’t want it. I’m not sure how many times Kroger’s applied before being approved, it was years. This stuff isn’t easy.

    Small business people are focused on finding locations where they are wanted, not shunned by neighbors. I think the laws are unfriendly to new business, that’s why it’s quickly dismissed by potential new restaurant tenants. I can’t tell you how many new restaurants have told me they’d love to open in Clintonville but they aren’t willing to deal with the headaches.

    Outdated liquor laws are ridiculous in my opinion, but I’m a bar owner and clearly biased!


    Elizabeth Lessner

    jennyw wrote >>
    According to the archives I was looking at (I’ll spare you another quote block), Kroger tried and failed in the past, but won rather handily in this election, as did several other liquor issues. Looks like the tide is turning on this one.

    I hope so. Selfishly, I’d love to see O’Reilly’s get some competition if only so I could get a seat in there whenever I wanted! I miss Tom, Alisa and AnnMarie!


    CMH Gourmand

    Northstar is a new build restaurant with beer and wine. I am sure they had the pockets to get a license but some neighborhoods would support the changes in alcohol sales.

    The Clintonville Area Commission and the Chamber of Commerce could help with that and identify what neighborhoods are likely to support a change in sales. In the most recent community development meetings and planning sessions of 2007 and 2008 – the desire for more restaurants was one of the top three “wants” of the community.

    And there is a great space just north of Villa Nova that is aching to be a restaurant again.

    Let’s get some CAC people and Liz in The Booster talking about this and get these changes going. Daniel – please start on the T-Shirts -“End Inhibitions and Prohibition in Clintonville”.

    There are several empty storefronts in Clintonville that should be full.


    Elizabeth Lessner

    I’d be on that campaign!

    I commend Northstar and everyone who has successfully managed to get a permit on High Street in Clintonville. They are indeed paving the way for more businesses to come in.

    I have a limit of risk I am personally willing to take and going to the ballot is just too much risk and extra work for me. Energy and money is finite, opening a restaurant is exhausting work, I couldn’t imagine having to first go to the polls just to get open.

    Opening up shop downtown where the neighborhood and City of Columbus has welcomed us with open arms and made accommodations for us to thrive (the parking ban was just lifted on S. 4th Street) has been a wonderful experience (thanks Cleve Ricksecker, Lelia Cady, Mike Brown, etc). I must be spoiled but I don’t want to fight with an area commission and neighbors just to open up shop!



    CMH Gourmand wrote >>
    Northstar is a new build restaurant with beer and wine. I am sure they had the pockets to get a license but some neighborhoods would support the changes in alcohol sales.

    Northstar developed on a site that had a grandfathered 3.2 beer license.

    Smith’s Deli has a similar license and only recently began selling beer.



    lizless wrote >>
    here’s the catch: to apply for a liquor permit you need a signed lease or proof that you own the property. then it goes to vote and you may or may not get the permit based on that vote. it’s a big risk to buy a building or sign a lease with no guarantee of a liquor permit.

    Normally you can sign an “option lease”, which allows you to lease the property once you receive all of your needed approvals/permits.

    Also, I believe that the covenents and deed restrictions in Ohio expire after 40 years.

    Anyone know when the covenents were put into place?



    Some of this might have been said already so I apologize if I am rehashing. About two years ago a friend of mine, my wife and I went and looked at the property. At the time Ohio Equities was selling the property for 1.4 million
    dollars which included the theater, the Clintonville Electric building, the parking lot next to the Clintonville Electric building and weirdly a single family house behind the Clintonville electric building on Brighton. To be exact the property is 186 feet of frontage on High St with a total of 26K sq. feet. There is one hitch in that I believe there is one store in that Clintoville Electric building that is owned by someone else and was not for sale at the time.

    When we walked through the theater it was already not in very good shape. The theater had a leaky roof that was allowing water to pool up in the projector room. The theater had been used most recently as a warehouse for Clintonville Electric. As I remember the floor of the theater (where the seats would have been) had been leveled with concrete and the walls and interior in general felt like someone had stripped the place of anything interesting. I have a PDF that describes the property as it was being sold in October of 2007 and can email it to anyone who is interested.

    One last historical fact, the theater was designed by Harry C. Holbrook who also designed the Midland Theater in Newark which I believe is still being used as a theater along with offices for the city. Even more fun for me he was the architect for the house I own in Clintonville.

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