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Proposal for Schumacher Place Mixes Modern, Historic

Brent Warren Brent Warren Proposal for Schumacher Place Mixes Modern, HistoricRendering by Jonathan Barnes Architecture and Design.
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A plan to build a three-story apartment building next to a 100-year-old commercial building on the South Side has been slowly making its way through the approval process.

The new, modern building would replace a 1950s-era concrete block addition and sit just to the east of the existing, one-story brick building at 364 E. Whittier St.

The proposal, from developer Aaron Kreais, calls for four one-bedroom apartments above a first-floor live-work unit. The historic building would be renovated to accommodate a brewery or restaurant, with a rear patio and five parking spaces accessible from Schiller Alley.

A previous iteration of the project called for nine units in a larger structure that would’ve wrapped around the older building. That proposal was not received favorably by either the Schumacher Place Civic Association or the South Side Area Commission, which both voted against zoning variances needed to move forward with the project. The main complaint was that the project was too dense for the neighborhood.

“I’m trying to build a good relationship with the civic, area commission, and city, so I decided to take what they said to heart (and scale down the project)”, said Kreais, who added that he hopes to pursue additional projects in the area.

The revised proposal will return to the Schumacher Place Civic Association on March 5 for a hearing, and then to the South Side Area Commission later in the month.

The building, which sits at the corner of Bruck Street, was for years the home of Buckeye Appliance and TV Center. The owners of that business built the addition to the east, which Kreais said is in very poor condition. The James Herriot Memorial Veterinary Hospital operated out the building from 2006 until March of 2018, when it was sold at a Franklin County Sheriff’s sale.

Kreais said he wants to wait until the project has been approved before signing a tenant for the commercial space, although interest has been strong; he’s already been approached by three different breweries looking for space.

The live-work unit is designed to be flexible, he added. It features a handicap-accessible living area in the rear and a commercial-ready space in the front that could house anything from a bakery to an accountant’s office.

The project will mark the first development for Kreais and his company, Kreais, LLC., which he formed in 2018 after moving to the Columbus area and deciding to pursue a career change.

“I come from a farming background,” he said. “I handled things like real estate acquisition and finance for our family companies (in Crawford and Wyandot counties).”

Kreais found himself getting more and more interested in urban development.

“I started researching and went down the rabbit hole,” he said. “What makes a good urban neighborhood…how do you build sensible density, what are some of the affordable housing challenges?”

Kreais has applied what he’s learned to the Whittier project, and is hopeful that the latest changes will be well received by the neighborhood; “I’ve been excited about it for a long time, through all its iterations.”

For more information, see www.schumacherplace.org.

A recent photo of the building, courtesy of Aaron Kreais.

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