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New Owner Plans Renovation of Historic Broad Street Buildings

Brent Warren Brent Warren New Owner Plans Renovation of Historic Broad Street BuildingsPhotos by Brent Warren.
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The new owner of a pair of historic buildings on Capitol Square is planning a complete renovation of the two structures.

Michael Tomko, the local developer behind the renovation of 145 East Rich Street downtown, is hopeful that his plan will fare better than previous efforts to bring 16 and 20 East Broad Street back to life.

A Mississippi-based development group bought the buildings in January of 2016 and tried three times to secure state historic tax credits in order to convert them into a boutique hotel. The previous owner, an affiliate of Schottenstein Property Group, also wanted to put a hotel into the space — that project was awarded tax credits in 2009 but was never completed.

Both buildings have been vacant for about 10 years.

The taller of the two, at 13 stories, is 16 East Broad. It was built in 1901 and once housed Marzetti’s Restaurant, as well as the offices of the National Football League and those of Columbus architect Frank Packard, who designed the building and worked from its top-floor penthouse.

20 East Broad was built in 1869 and holds the distinction of being the oldest building on Capitol Square.

“Rich Street is the blueprint for this kind of space, and based on the success we had on that project, we started looking for buildings of a similar vintage, but on a larger scale,” said Tomko, adding that his team is currently working out the details of its plan with the state Historic Preservation Office and the City of Columbus.

“A few things are pushing heavily towards office use,” he said, including the shape of the buildings and the fact that 16 East Broad has only one stairwell (new stairs would need to be added for residential or hotel use).”The hotel idea was a neat concept, but there are some challenges, especially with new hotels opening up recently nearby, like the Leveque.”

Many historic details remain in both buildings, including a bank of unique bay windows facing Pearl Alley and an ornate stairway in 16 East Broad that goes all the way to the top of the building.

“These are very sound, well-constructed buildings,” said Tomko. “The exteriors are in good shape – really all we would be doing is cleaning them and doing a little bit of tuck pointing – and the offices themselves are just dated…they were last updated probably in the 70’s or 80’s.”

One possible addition is a rooftop space on the shorter building, which would be allowable under the rules of the historic tax credit program, because it would be hidden from view by the building’s original historic parapet.

Neither building will have any parking, but Tomko has spoken with owners of nearby parking garages and is confident that spaces could be secured for future tenants.

The important thing is that the product — offices with open floor plans, in a historic building, on Capitol Square — is in demand, and Tomko thinks that will prove to be a bigger factor for potential tenants than super-convenient parking.

“I’m also very excited about Capital Crossroads’ pilot transit pass program,” he added. “I think that would be a great option for riders as well as for building owners and businesses.”

Tomko said that the plan is to apply for the tax credits in August. If those are awarded in December, then work could begin right away on the project.

For more information, see www.haydencolumbus.com.

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