NRI Gets Approval for Three New Buildings in Arena District

Brent Warren Brent Warren NRI Gets Approval for Three New Buildings in Arena DistrictThe proposed office building, seen from the corner of Neil Avenue and Spruce Street. Rendering courtesy of NRI.
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Nationwide Realty Investors (NRI) got the green light this morning to begin work on three new buildings in the Arena District.

The Downtown Commission unanimously approved Certificates of Appropriateness for the three buildings – two are clustered on the northern edge of the district, while the third marks the final phase of the Parks Edge project, near the southern boundary. Read on for more details.

Chipotle Office Building and Garage

We learned last summer, when the Columbus City Council approved an incentive deal for the project, that NRI planned to build an office building, a parking garage and apartments in the block bounded by Neil Avenue, Spruce, Kilbourne and Vine streets. The approval today was for the office building – which will be four stories and hold the new headquarters for Chipotle – and the 600-space parking garage, which will be accessed from Kilbourne Street.

Brian Ellis, President and COO of NRI, told the commission that a third building is also planned, but because of utility issues it will be need to be built after the first two. That building will hold apartments and will be five stories tall, according to a preliminary design that was shown at the meeting.

Ellis said he expects to return to a future commission meeting for final approval of the apartments. His team will also need to return for approval of the large signs that are planned for the northern, freeway-facing side of the garage.

As NRI has done elsewhere in the Arena District, the new garage is designed to serve residents of the apartments as well as office users, so that demand for parking spaces is distributed throughout the day.

Parks Edge Phase Three

NRI announced earlier this month its plan to build the third and final Parks Edge Building at the corner of McConnell Boulevard and New Public Lane.

Members of the commission expressed support for the design of the building, which stands 10 stories tall and features a brick exterior on its first two stories.

Dan Hanes, of the Columbus Architectural Studio, said that the intent was for the building to serve as a transitional element between the eight-story, brick-clad Burnham Square Condominiums building to the north, and the 12-story Parks Edge building to the south, which has a more modern design.

Several residents of nearby buildings were in attendance at the meeting, and expressed their displeasure with the design of the proposed building.

Concerns centered on its height – many felt it should be the same size as its neighbor to the north, not two stories taller – as well as the modern materials used on the upper floors. A third concern, voiced by more than one resident, was that the new building would block the sunlight at the swimming pool that sits on top of the Parks Edge parking garage.

Hanes said that shade studies showed that any blockage of the sun would be confined to the morning hours, and Ellis defended the design, saying that it would fit in well and complement the existing buildings and McFerson Commons.

The commission agreed with that assessment and voted to approve the new building, as well as a new covering for the east side of the Parks Edge garage.

The Columbus Architectural Studio designed the Parks Edge building and the office parking garage, while Lupton Rausch Architecture designed the office building.

Historic Building Renovation

Also approved at the meeting is a renovation of the former Winders Motor Sales Company building at 182 E. Long St. The Greater Columbus Arts Council recently announced plans to move into the building, which is owned by Connect Realty.

A view of the Chipotle office building from the corner of Vine Street and Neil Avenue. The darker brick building to the east is an apartment complex – it was not reviewed at today’s meeting.
The parking garage as seen from the north. It will sit to the east of the office building.
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