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Library Calling for Demolition and Redevelopment of Grant Oak Apartments

Brent Warren Brent Warren Library Calling for Demolition and Redevelopment of Grant Oak ApartmentsPhoto by Walker Evans.
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The Columbus Metropolitan Library is soliciting proposals to redevelop the row of apartment buildings just north of the newly renovated Main Library downtown.

The library has posted a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) on their website that specifies what they have in mind for the site – two mid-rise apartment buildings framing a small park, with two new roads providing access to the library parking garage from Oak Street.

The seven 1940’s-era apartment buildings that currently sit on the site – known as the Grant Oak Apartments – would be demolished. Those buildings hold 130 studio and small, one-bedroom apartments, with rents ranging from $440 to $510 a month.

The RFQ specifies that “over 100 residential units are possible” in the new development, along with a 2,000 to 5,000 square-foot retail space. It also asks that the project’s developer partner with the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority to ensure that 10% of the new units would be “work force housing,” defined in the document as “affordable to working persons earning 80-120% of the area median income.”

With new apartments downtown commanding premium rents, the proposal to swap out 130 existing, relatively affordable apartments for 90 or more high-end units might raise some eyebrows.

Ben Zenitsky, Marketing & Communications Specialist for CML, said that the library had to take many factors into consideration when deciding what to do with the site.

“Restoring the existing buildings was certainly an option, but we no longer are able to justify retaining ownership of them and would hate to see them fall into disrepair,” he said. “Our primary two goals with this sale and development are to ensure the safety of our customers by incorporating the much-needed ingress/egress routes connecting our garage with Oak Street, and also enhancing and elevating the area around Main Library.”

“We are working closely with the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation on this process,” added Zenitsky. “They will review each response to the RFQ and make recommendations to us.”

After a developer for the project is chosen, any specific proposal for the site would have to go before the Downtown Commission for approval.

For more information, visit www.columbuslibrary.org/about/doing-business.

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