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Italian Village Retail Proposal Gets Lukewarm Reception

Walker Evans Walker Evans Italian Village Retail Proposal Gets Lukewarm ReceptionRendering via Architectural Alliance.
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Commercial property developer Capitol Equities has a history of historic preservation in Columbus. The company invested heavily in the restoration of the Smith Bros’ Hardware Building several years ago, and wants to do the same with several buildings located a few blocks north at 995 North Fourth Street. A proposal was submitted to the Italian Village Commission this week that would convert existing warehouse buildings into space for retailers.

While the concept might sound like a good idea in general, Italian Village Commission Member Jason Sudy says that the details of the project are not quite ideal. He says that Capitol Equities originally wanted to tear down both buildings on the site: a historic brick building dating back to 1899 and a concrete warehouse, added at a later date.

“We said there’s no way they can can rip down that old historic building, because it’s super cool and in good shape,” said Sudy. “But the bigger factory building had been modified a lot, the back side of it has deteriorated some, and it’s mostly just a block warehouse. The general sense was that it would be ok to take it down.”

The new plan that will be officially reviewed by the Commission next Tuesday seeks to renovate both buildings to create seven retail spaces ranging from 1,033 square feet to just over 3,000 square feet. Outdoor patio space would fill the wedge located between the two buildings, accompanying a restaurant tenant. The plan also proposes an additional surface parking lot to the west side of the property, accessible from Hamlet Street, adding to the existing surface lot on the east side of the property on Fourth Street.

“To redevelop these existing buildings seems relatively long term, which would not fill in this gap,” said Sudy. “We’re not in favor of preserving a giant parking lot on Fourth, or adding a huge parking lot off Third Avenue or Punta Alley either. This is not the right way to go.”

Sudy says that the Commission would generally prefer to see redevelopment that would bring structures closer to the curb with concealed parking in the middle of the site, similar to what’s being proposed at Fifth and Summit. He added that a recent repaving of the existing parking lot on the site ignored all landscaping and setback standards, and the commission would like to see this fixed in the plan, which it currently does not address.

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All renderings via Architectural Alliance.

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