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Pavey Project Going for Variance, Preservation Easement Sought

Brent Warren Brent Warren Pavey Project Going for Variance, Preservation Easement SoughtRenderings via BBCO Design.
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The View on Pavey Square continues to work its way through the approval process, and many neighbors of the proposed Old North development continue to be mad about it. The latest proposal calls for a six-story building set behind the six original brick houses that line High Street between West Oakland and West Northwood Avenues. A new three-story building at the corner of Northwood and High would require the demolition of the two other historic High Street buildings.

The latest iteration of the development was not actually the topic of discussion at Thursday night’s UARB meeting, though. The board voted to recommend the approval of a zoning variance related to how far back the new building will sit from High Street – they did not discuss design changes made since the project went before the board last month. The University Area Commission, at their meeting the night before, rejected the variance request by a 15-1 margin, and many residents spoke out against the development and the variance at both meetings.

The developers of the project – Celmark Development Group and Solove Real Estate – will be going to the July 26th Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) meeting to ask for final approval of the variance. Even if they receive BZA approval, though, they will still be required to return to the UARB for design approval before the project could move forward.

“I’ve been consistently opposed to the density and height of the project,” said Pasquale Grado, who joined four other UARB members in voting in favor of the variance request, “but this discussion does not have anything to do with that, it’s just about the variance, and I’m in support of that… it provides us an opportunity to keep working on lowering the height and lowering the density.”

The original proposal for the site – which called for an 11-story building that would replace all but two of the original structures on High – was brought before the University Area Review Board (UARB) in December of last year. Since that time, after many revisions to the project and multiple UARB meetings, the developers have indicated a willingness to sign a legally-binding document that would hold them to their commitments, particularly in regard to the preservation of the six historic buildings.

Their lawyer, James Maniace, said on Thursday that “we are going to ask that our variance is conditioned on a preservation covenant between us and Columbus Landmarks, or a similar organization with expertise, and that will be a legal requirement for us to get zoning clearance.”

Maniace, who also serves as chair of the BZA, said that the covenant would run with the land, meaning that it’s restrictions would apply to any future owner or developer.

Ed Lentz of the Columbus Landmarks Foundation confirmed that his organization is currently in negotiation with the developers on such a covenant. “We are in a position as a preservation organization to be able to do an easement agreement,” he said, “and we may well do one in the case of Pavey, but it’s a work in progress…it’s being bounced back and forth, lawyers talking to lawyers.”

Renderings via BBCO Design.

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