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Retro Remodel Planned for High Street Motel

Brent Warren Brent Warren Retro Remodel Planned for  High Street MotelPhoto by Brent Warren.
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A makeover is planned for the South Wind Motel, which has stood at 919 S. High St. for over 60 years.

Michael Kelley of the Kelley Companies recently presented plans to renovate the building to the Brewery District Commission.

He shared a postcard of the motel showing what the building looked like soon after it opened, in 1959, and explained that the plan is to “completely renovate all the rooms and make the exterior look very similar to that postcard you just saw.”

The goal is a “vintage, boutique motel,” complete with turntables in the rooms and other amenities meant to highlight the building’s mid-century modern roots, Kelley said, adding that the new motel will not be owned by or affiliated with a national chain.

An LLC associated with the Kelley Companies bought the building in March for $535,000.

“By being independently-operated, we think this can be a uniquely local, community-oriented motel,” he said. “We want to be a champion for the Brewery District, and for Columbus, and for the small businesses around it that make the Brewery District what it is.”

A big part of achieving that vision, Kelley said, is upgrading the sign, which is in disrepair and not original to the building. “When you look at the signs of the mid-century, they’re playful and they have personality, and we think that’s the branding that we’re presenting here.”

Representatives of local design firm Flat Black told the commission that they took inspiration for the proposed neon sign from classic Columbus signs like the Peanut Shoppe sign Downtown, the Sweet Carrot (formerly Rife’s Market) sign near Grandview, and the Planks Cafe sign on Parsons Avenue.

Commissioners expressed support for the sign and the renovation in general, although no vote was taken since the project was only submitted for conceptual review.

For more information, see www.columbus.gov.

The proposed sign, with improvements to the building also shown. Rendering by Flat Black.
A postcard showing the building in 1959, courtesy of Michael Kelley.
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