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Motorists Unveils Development Plan for Surface Lots Near Topiary Park

Brent Warren Brent Warren Motorists Unveils Development Plan for Surface Lots Near Topiary ParkRenderings provided by Motorists.
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Motorists Insurance Group has announced plans to build a 68-unit apartment building on a parking lot downtown that has long been viewed as a key piece of the revitalization puzzle for both the Topiary Park and the Discovery District neighborhood that surrounds it.

The lot in question, which is just over an acre in size, sits at the southwest corner of Oak Street and South Washington Avenue – directly across from the park and just down the street from the newly-renovated Main Library.

The proposed building would have a small ground-floor retail storefront and a parking garage with space for 114 cars.

“We are making another significant investment in our community,” said Dave Kaufman, President and CEO of Motorists Insurance Group, in a statement. “We’re proud of our financial commitment and ongoing support of community improvements including the Topiary Park, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus Museum of Art and the new wing for the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio.”

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Future phases would tackle the remaining surface parking lots that Motorists controls in the area, putting four buildings containing 188 residential units and an unspecified amount of retail space on Washington Avenue, Oak Street and Franklin Avenue.

Renderings released with the announcement show the buildings wrapping around large parking garages. Those garages, with a total of 688 parking spaces, would likely provide parking for Motorists employees in addition to residents and shoppers. The 21-story Motorists Building at 471 East Broad Street has served as the headquarters for the company since it was completed in 1973.

Planning for the first phase of the development is scheduled to begin in “early 2017,” with an expected completion in the spring of 2019, although plans for the building have not yet been submitted to the Downtown Commission.

Motorists is partnering with a Columbus-based developer, the Robert Weiler Company, on the project.

In August, the Columbus Metropolitan Library solicited proposals for the redevelopment of the Grant Oak apartments, which sit to the west of the proposed 68-unit building. That plan, which called for the demolition of seven 1940’s-era apartment buildings, appears to have stalled. Spokesperson Ben Zenitsky said that the library “received no successful proposals in response to our request for proposals…our Board of Trustees will consider the next steps in the new year.”

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