Franklinton Review Board Pushes New Development to Go Bigger
Representatives from CASTO presented plans this afternoon for conceptual review of their first phase of a larger 11.5 acre mixed-use collaborative development planned in East Franklinton. The proposal was given a first look by the East Franklinton Review Board, who generally seemed to like the plan, but asked to see more consideration given to specific aspects of the eastern building.
“I think the five story buildings with no setback on Rich Street feels appropriate to me,” said Board Member Bart Overly. “I’m curious about the riverfront side though. From a development standpoint, there seems to be a real opportunity to give that side more emphasis. I would even be in favor of adding another 8-to-10 story building along riverfront and shift density a bit.”
Board Member Denis de Verteuil agreed with the idea of more height added closer to the Scioto River, noting that without an ocean or mountains, the waterways in Central Ohio are the biggest natural asset for the region.
“We can certainly see the potential, but it’s also a matter of economics,” explained CASTO Development Manager Justin Bird, who presented the project on his company’s behalf. “We want to deliver a number of units at market rate and more affordable rates. Those rates haven’t even been set yet for this area, so we want to keep it simple and work more density into future phases.”
Beyond the two buildings being developed by CASTO and The Robert Weiler Company, Bird added that they organization was working collectively with the City of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department to connect the development to the bike path that runs along the flood wall with a public greenspace. The plan calls for the expansion of Lucas Street and McDowell Street south of Rich, and an extension of Cherry Drive to create a continuation of the street grid pattern in the neighborhood.
“Our concept defines that extension of Lucas Street as a plaza space, where cars should be slowed and the area is pedestrian friendly,” said Bird. “We would have the ability to shut Lucas down for events and allow the commercial and retail activity to spill out onto the streets.”
The design of the buildings, created by Sullivan Bruck Architects, were intended to be a combination of modern and historic design elements, blending with with existing buildings as well as other new builds in the area.
“We really like the idea of use shipping containers as a design element because it correlates with reuse and pays homage to the fact that Columbus is a transportation hub,” said Bird. “So we’re mixing the contemporary element of shipping crates with the more traditional warehouse-style design.”
Board Member Kim Way said that he would prefer to see the design elements more interconnected through the buildings, rather than having them look like two design styles sitting side-by-side. Similar design feedback was echoed by other Review Board Members.
“We the the design will be bold and symbolic,” said Bird. “The shipping container design is something Columbus has not seen before.”
No vote was taken to approve the project at this point in time, as it was only being presented for conceptual review. A revised plan will likely be resubmitted for further review or approval at a future meeting.
In the short term, CASTO plans to host a pop-up shipping container park on the site this summer while working toward breaking ground in the fall. He said that the City of Columbus is planning to begin road construction work in the area in May 2016.
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