New Plan Calls for Demolition of Four-Story Building Downtown
A month after presenting a new plan for the renovation of the Madison Building at 72 N. High St., the team behind the project was back before the Downtown Commission today with a request to demolish the building next to it.
The four-story building at 78 N. High St. would be torn down to allow more natural light and improved access to the Madison Building, according to Ricky Day of the Day Companies.
“The reality is, we can’t lease the building if the 78 (N. High St.) building’s there,” he said, explaining that there is an office tenant interested in leasing over half of the Madison Building, but “the only way to do that is if we can get someone in and out of the building without eating up all the square footage.”
“The Madison Building only goes back two-thirds of the block, it’s landlocked,” Day added. “There’s no potential for natural light, or ingress/egress, so that’s…what we’re trying to address.”
A plan presented by representatives of Meyers and Associates Architecture calls for landscaped green space in place of the demolished building, which would lead to a new entrance on the north side of the Madison Building for tenants of the upper floors.
A gate and signage would fill the twenty-foot-wide space left empty along High Street, and a retail storefront would occupy the first floor of the Madison Building.
The commission raised concerns that the plan for the open space had not been fully fleshed out, and that no plans were shown for how the newly-exposed wall of the Madison Building would be altered.
The chair of the commission, Stephen Wittmann, expressed confidence that those concerns could be alleviated and that the commission would not stand in the way of taking down the building.
“What I’m hearing (from the commission) is that if this thing gets put together correctly, we could pass the demolition,” he said, “But that little strip has to be something really good, it has to be cool and unique…it would be great to see this building move forward.”
Commissioners Mike Lusk asked if the front portion of the building could be saved, since removing it would create “a missing tooth on that block.”
Columbus Landmarks Executive Director Becky West suggested that – if reuse was not possible – an approach that preserved the facade should be considered.
“We have fewer than 25 percent of our pre-1945 building inventory Downtown, and this is one of those wonderful gems,” she said. “We would love to see that incorporated.”
As for the White Haines Building – which sits to the north of the building proposed for demolition and is also owned by the Day Companies – Day said that he considers that a separate project and that no concrete plans have been made for its renovation.