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Downtown Commission Hears Ideas for Discovery District, Plans for Lev’s Pawnshop Building

Brent Warren Brent Warren Downtown Commission Hears Ideas for Discovery District, Plans for Lev’s Pawnshop Building
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A new “Placemaking Plan” for the Discovery District was presented to the Downtown Commission on Tuesday.

Cleve Ricksecker, Executive Director of the Discovery District Special Improvement District, updated the commission on some of the highlights of the plan, including a Discovery Trail meant to connect destinations like the Main Library, the Columbus Museum of Art, Thurber House, and the Topiary Park.

“It’s about one mile in length, and like all trails, it will have a trailhead – we’re trying to get people to park once and walk to multiple destinations,” he said. “We’re looking at decorative crosswalks and playful directional signs as well, and we’ll work with private property owners to do things like dress up garages.”

Another recommendation calls for improvements to Grant and Washington avenues where they cross East Broad Street. The idea is to make it easier and more inviting for pedestrians to cross Broad, which neighborhood residents and workers have said feels like a barrier.

“As individual projects go forward, we will designate a design team and then we’ll be back to the commission with final designs,” said Ricksecker, adding that projects on public property would go before the Columbus Art Commission.

“Obviously we support this really visionary look into the future,” said commissioner Michael S. Brown. “There is a lot of public art in the area, smaller pieces, but we just don’t see it every day…or we look past it.”

Also heard at Tuesday’s meeting was a plan to restore the top two floors of 220 E. Main St., the building that has long held Lev’s Pawn Shop on the first floor. Plans call for the pawn shop to remain – although eventually with new signage – and for apartments to be developed on the upper floors. New windows and balconies would be added to both the eastern and western-facing sides of the building.

The commission asked that the applicant return with more details on the restoration of the historic building’s exterior.

Nicholas Kinney of SEM Architects, who presented the plans to the commission, said that the top floors have been vacant for at least 30 years. The building originally held a Woolworth’s, with residences above, and was later was home to a furniture store.

For more information on the Discovery District plan, visit www.discoverydistrictplan.com.

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