Plan to Demolish and Replace Buildings in German Village Moving Forward
A collection of buildings that once housed a brass foundry at the southern edge of German Village will likely be demolished and replaced with new residential construction. The buildings are located on the back half of a 0.4-acre parcel at 157 Thurman Avenue. A large, historic single-family house sits on the front of the site.
The plan for developing the site, which was presented conceptually to the German Village Commission on September 1st, calls for restoring the historic house and building a new single-family house next to it, along with a three-unit condo building with detached garages on the back of the lot.
The demolition of the main foundry building – the only one not condemned by the City of Columbus – was opposed by both the German Village Society and the German Village Commission. The commission voted against demolition at their June 3rd meeting, but the developers took the case to the Ohio Board of Building Appeals. The state agency agreed with the developers that the building should be condemned, effectively taking the commission out of the process since they can’t make a property owner preserve a condemned building.
Scott Patton, who is developing the property with his brother-in-law, John D. Space, said that their original idea was to split the parcel in two and rehab the existing structures – they had even considered the possibility of a brewery, complete with a small restaurant and beer garden.
“We came to the conclusion that that wouldn’t be possible given the amount of environmental contamination,” he said, citing in particular the amount of lead in the soil and the challenge of abating it without causing further damage to the deteriorated buildings.
Patton said that in addition to completing an environmental assessment, they have also hired structural engineers and a consultant to perform a traffic study. He is hopeful that the commission will continue to work with them to refine and improve the project, despite the underlying disagreement about the preservation of the former foundry building.
“We’ve always been sensitive that this is German Village, and we’ve gone and tried to do the right thing with this project,” he said. “It’s in our best interest to do this right; people who are going to buy in German Village want something that fits the character of the neighborhood.”
Patton said that the buildings will likely come down once final approvals and permits are secured for the overall project, so that there’s no gap between demolition, environmental remediation and construction.
Sarah Marsom, Historic Preservation Advocate for the German Village Society, said that while many neighbors are still upset about the prospect of losing the historic buildings (she herself said that it would be “exceedingly disappointing to see the old foundry structure demolished”), there are a number of other concerns that were raised at the last commission meeting, including parking, traffic impacts, and the overall massing of the property along the alley. She cited a parking study conducted by OSU City and Regional Planning students that singled out Thurman as a hot spot for parking in the neighborhood.
“The developers hopefully are listening to the commentary,” added Marsom.
If there’s one thing that all parties in the dispute can agree on, it’s the potential of the existing single-family home at the front of the property, which has long been obscured from view due to fencing and a wall of overgrown vegetation. Patton said the house, which is structurally sound, would be restored and sold as a single-family residence.
“The house is quite large for Thurman,” said Marsom, “there’s a lot of potential for something awesome there.”
Renderings provided by Scott Patton and John D. Space.