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Stonewall Redevelopment Gets Push Back from Italian Village Commission

Walker Evans Walker Evans Stonewall Redevelopment Gets Push Back from Italian Village CommissionRendering via Behal Sampson Dietz.
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A proposal to demolish and rebuild the Stonewall Columbus offices in the Short North returned to the Italian Village Commission on Tuesday night, where it was met with a certain amount of resistance.

“The current Stonewall building is listed as a contributing building in the Short North Design Guidelines and has a significant impact on the charter of High Street in that area,” explained Commissioner Josh Lapp. “Per the guidelines, the preferable solution for any contributing building is adaptive reuse, or modification.”

The current iteration of the proposal calls for the demolition of the 1957 two-story bank building at 1160 North High Street while renovating the three-story building at 14 East Fourth Avenue. A new two-to-three-story addition would be constructed at the corner of Fourth and High, totaling nearly 14,000 square feet of office space for the organization.

Stonewall’s proposal was first brought to the Italian Village Commission for input in October, where it was received more warmly overall, although concerns were raised then about the demolition request. After last night’s meeting, Commissioners seemed to take a firmer stance.

“There was overall concern expressed by the commission regarding demolition of the front building,” said Commission member Jason Sudy. “The concerns largely focused on its designation as a contributing building and the fact that the building is very sound structurally.”

Sudy went on to explain that he’s more concerned with the fact that the new proposal does not close the existing High Street curb-cut for vehicular traffic entering the adjacent parking lot.

“Celebrating the character of the historic Fourth Avenue building and improving the streetscape on both High and Fourth by closing existing curb cuts will be a vital part of creating a new character there,” added Sudy.

A representative from Stonewall said today that the organization is still “exploring all options for our location” and called last night’s meeting an “evolution of that process”.

“Stonewall Columbus will work diligently with the Italian Village Commission to create a plan that works for everyone,” said Karla Rothan, Stonewall’s Executive Director.

Lapp expressed concern with the Commission setting a dangerous precedent by allowing the demolition of a two-story High Street building with no major issues, as it could allow future developers to want to follow suit.

“Demolition is rarely approved for contributing buildings unless the building is in danger of collapse and deemed unrepairable,” he concluded.

All renderings via Behal Sampson Dietz.

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