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Interview: Brett Kaufman on Two25, the 17-Story Columbus Commons Proposal

Brent Warren Brent Warren Interview: Brett Kaufman on Two25, the 17-Story Columbus Commons ProposalRendering by NBBJ.
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Yesterday the Daimler Group and Kaufman Development announced plans to build a 17-story mixed-use development off of Columbus Commons. If approved, the project would be the tallest building added to the downtown skyline since the 20-story Condominiums at North Bank Park was completed in 2007. We caught up with Brett Kaufman for a brief chat about the proposed building — he shared some details about the scope of the project and the factors that have shaped it’s design so far. 

Q: What’s the timeline moving forward, will you be looking to go before Downtown Commission next month?

A: No, we’re not on the agenda at this point. We’re still very early in the design process, and we’re still having a number of conversations with potential users that could alter the size and shape of building. So it’s still very preliminary, but we’re excited about the interest, and hopeful that we’ll advance through the design process quickly.

Q: You’ve been speaking with potential office users, is it the demand for office space downtown that’s really driving project?

A: Well, the project as it’s currently designed has a larger residential component than office, but certainly the office component is a huge driver for a development like this. It’s a critical piece, and those are also the first users you start talking to in a deal like this, so right now those are the people we’re out talking to.

Q: I’m curious about the shape of building – it kind of hugs the corner, yet doesn’t fill the whole parcel, what’s the plan for that green space that would remain? Do you see that as a potential restaurant patio space, or as an amenity space for residents?

A: The idea is there would be a bit of a plaza or park outside, adjacent to the Commons. We had that as an idea from the beginning, so we wouldn’t be smothering the Commons with the building. Certainly it’s something that could be used by a restaurant.

The amenities will all be accommodated within the building, the entire seventh floor will be devoted to amenities, including  a deck area that looks out to the commons.

Q: What’s the expectation for the retail space in the building, how big will the spaces be?

A: That’s to be determined, but there will be flexibility and certainly we’d be able to accommodate retailers of various sizes – we expect a pretty strong retail interest, we’re very excited about having those spaces right on the park..

Q: Will parking be accommodated entirely by the garage across Rich Street?

A: Parking will not necessarily all be across the street – that’s something we’re still working out, but we are contemplating having some parking within the building. We will definitely utilize the neighboring garage, but we are not sure how we are going to be connected – that’s something that will be worked out through conversations with the commission and the city.

Q: It’s not possible to go under the street is it? Or to connect to the former City Center garage under the park?

A: No, you can’t go under the street to the garage – we did look into that, but unfortunately, because of utilities and other issues, that just isn’t possible. As for the City Center garage, that would also be very challenging to connect to, but the bigger issue is that that garage is currently at full capacity.

Q: Will the residential component be rental apartments or a for-sale product?

A: We are currently talking about both. We definitely will have a rental component and we’re studying the possibility of having for-sale units up on the higher floors – it’s something I believe there’s a market for, and hope to incorporate into the project.

Q: You’ve said that if the demand from potential office tenants is there, the project could grow in size, but what about from the residential side? Is it possible that you see the residential demand at such a level that you feel the need to add to that part of the project?

A: It’s possible, although we’re pretty comfortable with where we stand residentially – with all factors that we’ve taken into consideration, we think it’s probably the right-sized project. Of course it could still move around a bit, get bigger or smaller.

Q: What are the next steps?

A: We’re going to continue to work on the design – it’s a complex building that requires the appropriate thought and process. We need to work with the commission when the time is right and make sure that we’re understanding everybody’s interests. And most importantly, we need to figure out who the users are, and make sure we’re designing to their needs. So that’s where we’re at, talking to users and working on the design, but we’re optimistic that it will come together relatively quickly.

For ongoing discussion on Two25, CLICK HERE to visit our Messageboard.

For more information, visit www.two25commons.com.

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