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The Hubbard Apartments to Rise Over The Short North

Walker Evans Walker Evans The Hubbard Apartments to Rise Over The Short North
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The northeast corner of Hubbard Avenue and High Street has been one of the most widely discussed plots of land here on Columbus Underground over the past five years. Originally proposed in 2006 as the home of the failed Ibiza condo development, the site is going through a change of ownership where local development firms Elford and Wagenbrenner are jointly working on a revised plan for the neighborhood. The Hubbard will be a five-story mixed-use apartment building with ground-floor retail and a public parking garage located in the back.

For more details on the project, we spoke recently with Mark Wagenbrenner, President of Wagenbrenner Development, and Mike Fitzpatrick, President of Elford Development, Ltd.

Walker Evans: Following the failure of this Ibiza condo proposal, how did your companies first get involved in a new project for this site?

Mike Fitzpatrick: Elford got in involved when we were introduced to the original developers. They were interested in seeing something happen in this location and wanted to try to make the best of the situation, given the existing scenario. From there we started working on putting together a couple of plans and built a team. We reached out to Wagenbrenner as a partner because we have a great working relationship with them, and a lot of respect for them. They’ve got a great reputation in the neighborhood and strong track record with the city of Columbus.

Mark Wagenbrenner: We knew that the folks on the Italian Village Commission were looking to push an overlay that would govern the development of that site, since it wasn’t developed within the original time period. So we kind of anticipated that, and the plan that we brought to the table kept within those guidelines. Essentially, Elford has been in the lead on taking this plan through zoning. We’ve had a pretty good long term relationship, so that has worked out well. We just wish it wasn’t so stressful on the acquisition side.

WE: Is the stress due to the situation with the previous development?

MW: There’s been a lot to work through with all of the parties involved, and we want to make sure we’re doing things the right way. The good news is that if everything falls into place, we’re coming forward with something that essentially works within the new overlay and still provides the 250 parking spaces. We’re only doing 68 units in five stories, versus the original 11-story building proposed, but in the end that was probably too intense of a development at this site.

WE: And those 250 parking spaces are public parking, correct?

MW: Yes, the 250 spaces mentioned are public spaces, and an additional 68 spaces will be for the residents. It’s essentially a public parking garage for The Short North. We’ll probably have monthly rates that I’m sure some residents in the building will utilize, but those monthly rates will also be available to neighborhood businesses and for people who live nearby. The parking garage itself is located behind the main apartment building, and it’s wrapped with units facing south on Hubbard. You’ll see the parking sign, but much of the actual garage is hidden from High Street and Hubbard Avenue.

WE: Mike, in addition to The Hubbard, Elford is also working on the redevelopment of the Fireproof building, just two blocks north. It’s a similar type of development — apartments for rent that may eventually be converted to condos — so do you see these two developments competing at all?

MF: The Hubbard is a little larger at 68 units above 17,000 square feet of retail, but I do think these two projects are complementary. More parking for the area is certainly going to benefit the entire Short North. Which will help all restaurants and retailers in the area. The more this area continues to develop, the more we’ll see the Short North breed success upon itself. I think as the Campus Partners initiatives develop further on the northern end of the area, it will continue to make what is already one of the best areas in Columbus thrive and get even better. Certainly we’re excited about being a part of it.

WE: Mark, it’s obviously still early in the process, but can you share any thoughts with us on what type of retail tenant mix The Hubbard might eventually see?

MW: We’re already talking to potential retailers, but without their permission I can’t say anything at the moment. I would hope that some sort of restaurant space would be the key tenant, and we’d also like to see some service-based tenants. The retail mix should largely fit in with the rest of the neighborhood.

WE: I’ve noticed a change in public perception ever since it was announced that Elford & Wagenbrenner wouldd be leading the new project at this site. Everything with Ibiza fell apart in such a dramatic and public fashion that it left a lot of people thinking that nothing would ever happen on this piece of land.

MW: Well, we like our chances as long as everything with the bankruptcy comes together. I think that the guys behind Ibiza really just missed the right timing before the market started to collapse and they ended up left at the alter by their financing sources. Things started to deteriorate from there. Anyway, we’re excited. This is probably the best multifamily site in all of Columbus. We’re fortunate to be able to do something with it.

WE: Last but not least, what is the official timeline of The Hubbard and when might we see completion?

MF: At this point, we do have a certificate of appropriateness from the Italian Village Commission. Our site plan and elevations have also been approved. We have to go back through for the approval of building materials, light fixtures and other specifics. At this point we’re primarily waiting for bankruptcy approval. That’s really where our deal stands right now. We are hopefully looking to get that approval and break ground this Spring. The Hubbard is a little further along, but on a similar timeline to the Fireproof redevelopment project. The Hubbard would be on a 12-14 month construction timeline, so if we can start this Spring, our goal would be to deliver and occupy by June of 2013.

WE: Thanks Mark and Mike for your time discussing this project. We look forward to more updates soon.

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