Sunday, April 29, 2012

Columbus Dispatch: The Pizzutis honor their past, remake the future of the Short North

The Pizzutis honor their past, remake the future of the Short North

By  Steve Wartenberg
The Columbus Dispatch Sunday April 29, 2012 6:50 AM

The idea took hold as Joel Pizzuti traveled the country on business, often staying in boutique hotels, which are smaller and more expensive than the typical full-service hotel and are chock-full of atmosphere, art and amenities.

“All the top markets have them,” said the president of Pizzuti Cos., the Columbus-based real-estate development firm that built the Miranova complex and oversaw construction of the new Franklin County courthouse.

“Miami is littered with them, Nashville and Louisville have one, Des Moines has two,” Pizzuti said.

“Columbus needed a full-service boutique hotel that will be as dynamic as the ones you find in New York, San Francisco and Chicago.”

It’s on the way, he said, as part of a $59 million Pizzuti project in the Short North that includes an 11-story, 135-room boutique hotel — the Joseph — on the east side of N. High Street, just south of E. Russell Street.

Across N. High, the project includes a six-story, 55,000-square-foot office building, a 313-car parking garage and the Pizzuti Collection gallery, which will house the vast modern art collection of company founder Ron Pizzuti.

   While there was some opposition to the modern design of the project, city and business groups are backing the project and it is quickly moving forward, with a likely opening sometime in 2014.

   “We are very excited about this project,” said Diesha Condon, senior director of the Short North Business Association. “Ron has a world-class art collection, and this will bring in new visitors, and the parking garage, well, any time you add parking spaces here, that’s amazing.”

   Marcella’s — a Cameron Mitchell restaurant — is just south of the project’s office building.

   “I couldn’t be more excited,” Mitchell said. “The Joseph will bring in leisure travelers and will add even more vibrancy to the   Short North, which is already growing by leaps and bounds.”

   The nuts and bolts of the project have taken time to come together, but on March 19, the Columbus City Council authorized the Department of Development to enter into an economic-development agreement with Pizzuti. The proposed deal includes a 10-year, 75 percent tax abatement for the office building, and inclusion of the parking garage in the area’s tax-increment financing district, a city program that returns a portion of a developer’s taxes to pay for the project.

   The city also has an agreement to sell an existing surface parking lot to Pizzuti for $1; that will be the site for the Joseph. In return, Pizzuti will pay the city $125,000 a year for five years to offset the loss of 40 parking meters.

 The city also could spend up to $1.9 million to renovate Millay Alley, creating a pedestrian-friendly gateway between the Joseph and Goodale Park.

   All of these provisions must be voted upon by the City Council and “should be moving forward in the coming months,” said Bill Webster of the city’s development department. Once this occurs, Joel Pizzuti said, the project will take 18 to 22 months to complete.

   The art gallery will be housed in a section of the current United     Commercial Travelers building, a limestone-faced building that fronts Goodale Park. Part of the building will be demolished to make space for the parking garage.

   After several back-and-forth sessions with Pizzuti, the Victorian Village Commission recently approved the developer’s revised plan by a 3-2 vote.

   “There were a lot of issues related to the architecture and look of the new buildings and the demolition of part of the UCT building,” said commission member Marc Conte, who voted no.

   Changes were made that brought the look of the building more in line with the surrounding architecture.

   “I still don’t feel they’ve met the standards,” Conte said.

   The design of the project shows a structure that is taller and has a somewhat more-modern look, with more glass and less brick, than traditional Short North buildings. But Conte thinks it’s an economic win.

   “That’s never been an issue for me, and all of that is positive,” he said.

   The Italian Village Commission approved the project by a 4-0 vote.

   “There were a lot of components to discuss, the partial demolition, the size of the additions,” said Randy Black, the city’s historic preservation officer. “But after a complete review, it was determined things fit in pretty nicely.”

   Developing the Joseph has become a passion for the Pizzutis.

   “That was my grandfather’s name, and it means a lot to my father,” Joel Pizzuti said.

   His grandfather’s name actually was Giuseppi, but everyone called him Joseph.

   “He came to this country from Calabria (in southern Italy) and lived in Kent, Ohio — and my father was the first Pizzuti born in this country,” he said. “My grandfather was a laborer when he got here.”

   The Joseph will offer spa services and have a restaurant on the ground floor, banquet and meeting space and will be filled with art.

   Pizzuti would not say who will operate the restaurant, but restaurateur Mitchell   said, “We’ve had some preliminary discussions, but nothing definitive.”

   The average room price will be about $185 a night, Pizzuti said, which is more than hotels in the convention center area. The Joseph’s market is high-end business travelers, tourists and a small percentage of the people attending conventions.

   “I think Columbus is ready for an upscale boutique hotel,” said Eric Belfrage, a hotel specialist with CB Richard Ellis in Columbus. “It won’t appeal to the masses, but they’re eclectic and   small enough that they won’t have to sell blocks of hundreds of rooms like the (almost-completed and 522-room Hilton Columbus Downtown) will have to sell.”

   The 44-room Lofts hotel on Nationwide Boulevard is considered a boutique hotel, but it does not have a restaurant and some of the other amenities that the Joseph will.

   Despite a sluggish market for office space, there seems to be a market for the proposed office building, which will feature retail on the ground floor.

   “There’s always a market for the best-located space, and the Short North is the best,” said Mike Simpson of NAI Ohio Equities. “The organic development of the area and relation to Downtown make it desirable.”

   Kent Rigsby, owner of the popular Rigsby’s Kitchen in the Short North, said he also has spoken to Pizzuti about the Joseph’s restaurant.

   “I think the hotel will be a real positive for the neighborhood,” Rigsby said. “And the art gallery-museum will be world class and impact this neighborhood in a big way, with people coming from all over to see it.”

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Columbus Underground: Whit’s Frozen Custard Opening in The Short North

Whit’s Frozen Custard Opening in The Short North

By: Walker

Warm summer-ish weather is already upon us, and The Short North will gain another place to cool down this June when Whit’s Frozen Custard opens at 841 North High Street in the Dakota Building. Launched in Granville, this Central Ohio business has quickly expanded with over a dozen locations stretching from Delaware to Athens and beyond. Much more at Columbus Underground

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Italian Village Clean-Up This Saturday, April 28, 2012

Italian Village Clean-Up

This Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Italian Village Clean-Up is happening this Saturday! Please join your neighbors to pick up trash and recycling on the streets and in the parks of Italian Village. We will meet at Italian Village Park at 11AM where you will get your supplies - trash bags, gloves, and safety vests - and where we will divide into groups to clean areas of our neighborhood.
You are welcome to bring children and pets (as long as they get along well with others)!

The Martha Walker Garden Club has donated annuals as a give-away to the first 10 people who show up on Saturday.

Italian Village Clean-Up
Saturday, April 28, 2012
11AM - 1PM
Italian Village Park (corner of Kerr Street and Hubbard Avenue)
Facebook event

Let's make this place shine!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Columbus Dispatch: Goodale Park pond continues to leak

Goodale Park pond continues to leak

The Goodale Park pond leaked through the weekend dropping more than two inches since Friday.

As of Sunday, the pond's water level was down 12 1/2 inches below the overflow line, according to Terri Leist, Columbus' assistant recreation and parks director. That means the water level has dropped nine inches since the city stopped filling the pond on April 13.

City officials are still trying to find the source of the leak, although some people suspect the fountain the Friends of Goodale Park installed last year.

The city spent $144,600 to put down a bentonite (clay) surface officials hoped would prevent the pond from draining as it did last year.

Short North Gala Honors Local Leaders Including Jeff Smith

Short North Gala Honors Local Leaders

Short North Gala, Sunday April 29th
Join other residents, businesses and local organizations as the Short North Arts districts hosts their 6th Annual Short North Gala this Sunday.

Unsung Heroes Jeff Smith (SNCA President), Rob Harris (Harrison West Society President), and Chip Smith (Short North Stop Director) will be recognized along with Luminary Award winner Jack Lucks (Columbus developer) and the City of Columbus Public Service Department as outstanding District Partners.  The SID Star Awards will also thank the Wood Companies, Kroger Co., and Kevin Lykens for their invaluable contributions.

Jeff Smith (Photo from Facebook)

Exceptional food and drink provided by top Short North area establishments offering a fine sampling of the best the neighborhood has to offer.

Sunday, April 29th, 6-10pm at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral (555 N. High Street).

Tickets available online or by phone at 614-299-8050.

Community Forum Looks Ahead

Last Thursday, the Short North Civic Association lead an open meeting to share in much of the planned development for the area.

John Angelo, head of the Short North SID along with SNBA Director Diesha Condon gave great insight into how the community is working with developers and the city to minimize obstruction, parking shortages and other distrubances amidst a number of new planned construction projects coming our way.

Westiminster Thurber shared layouts for their planned third building, while COTA updated the group on their green initiatives, local route changes as well as recent facility and bus upgrades.

Become a member of the Short North Civic Association

The SNCA welcomes all area homeowners, renters, business owners, and employees to become members. Annual SNCA memberships cost $25 for individuals, $50 per household, and $75 for businesses. They can be purchased by visiting the link below. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Central Ohio home sales, contracts and prices up in the first quarter

Central Ohio home sales, contracts and
prices up in the first quarter

(Apr. 19, 2012) First quarter home sales in central Ohio were up 7.1 percent versus first quarter 2011 sales (4,045 vs. 3,776). March home sales jumped 36 percent to 1,653 compared to the previous month (1,215) and were up 6.1 percent more than last year (1,558) according to the Columbus Board of REALTORS®.

“This upward trend in home sales began last summer,” said Jim Coridan, President of the Columbus Board of REALTORS®. “Average sale prices are increasing, but at a much more cautious pace.”

Average sales price fell 30.6 percent from its decade high of $192,642 in June 2005 to $133,604 in February 2009. The average sales price of a central Ohio home in March 2012 was $153,557 – 6.5 percent higher than one year ago.

The 3,466 homes listed for sale in March marks a 56.7 percent increase over the previous month, but is still 10.4 percent lower than March of 2011. The median list price of new listings last month was $149,900 – 3.5 percent higher than one year ago.

To read the full report, click here. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Business First: Kroger looking to expand Chambers Road store

A Columbus Kroger Co. store near Grandview Heights is slated for a 20,000-square-foot addition if neighbors get on board with the project, Columbus Business First reports.

The Cincinnati-based company is meeting with the 5th by Northwest Commission, which makes zoning recommendations to the city, on May 14. Kroger (NYSE:KR) renovated the store and built a gas station on the 1375 Chambers Road site less than two years ago.

Next year, Giant Eagle is expected to open a 92,000-square-foot store less than a mile from the Kroger location being considered for renovation.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Short North Community Forum this Thursday at 7pm

Short North Community Forum

When: Thursday, April 19th, 7pm

Where: Goodale Park Shelter House (120 W. Goodale St., Columbus, OH 43215)

Hosted by: Short North Civic Association, Italian Village Society and Harrison West Society

Special Guests:

- SNBA/SID will inform us about upcoming construction projects, and provide an overview about plans to help minimize related noise, traffic, and parking issues.
- COTA Community Relations Manager will discuss current programs and upcoming projects
- Westminster Thurber will offer a presentation about their planned addition.

We invite you to take an active civic role by joining us at this neighborhood forum and participating in these important community discussions.

RSVP to Facebook Event here - see you there!

Root Down: Earth Day Work Day and Celebration

This past weekend Friends of Goodale Park organized volunteers, including participants from United Way's PRIDE Gives, Old Navy, Quantam Health Care, Stonewall, ComFest, JP Morgan Chase Pride, Columbus Bar Association to join forces to work on projects throughout the park.

A total of 117 active community members showed up (for 277 hours) to put their 'Root Down,' while getting their hands dirty planting, raking, weeding, mulching and other Spring cleanup projects.

Join them and the rest of Columbus this Saturday, April 21st, 11am-10pm at Columbus Commons downtown to Celebrate 'Going Green.'

Historic Preservation: Best Practices Online Resource

The Historic Resources Commission Working Group, est. in 2010, has released an online guide of best practices, follow here.

This site is designed to provide web resources to further promote and spread awareness of the advantages of preservation.

It will provide property owners a vast amount of information, techniques while promoting only the best pratices.

Short North Yard Sale - June 2nd

Join us for the largest neighborhood yard sale in Columbus.

This daylong treasure hunt takes place across the Short North neighborhoods, including Victorian Village, Harrison West, Italian Village, Dennison Place, and The Circles.

Area residents who would like to be included in the official listing can register at

The online listing features an interactive map and details about the various items that will be for sale.

Invite and share the online event here with your Columbus friends and neighbors to help spread the word.

Become a member of the Short North Civic Association

The SNCA welcomes all area homeowners, renters, business owners, and employees to become members. Annual SNCA memberships cost $25 for individuals, $50 per household, and $75 for businesses. They can be purchased by visiting the link below. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Columbus Dispatch: Goodale Park pond still losing water

Goodale Park pond losing water

By  Mark Ferenchik
The Columbus Dispatch Monday April 16, 2012 11:18 AM

It appears the Goodale Park pond is leaking again.

The pond’s water level is down 4 to 6 inches since a contractor finished filling it on Friday afternoon and the fountain was turned on, said Terri Leist, assistant director of the Columbus Department of Recreation and Parks.

The pond had been drained so the Friends of Goodale Park could install a fountain and sculpture of two elephants. Last year, though, the water seeped out after the city filled it.

While no one could detect the source of the leak, the city paid a contractor $144,600 to put down bentonite, a clay that expands when wet, in an attempt to fix the problem.

But that expensive fix apparently hasn’t solved it.

Leist said the fountain itself could be the source, although Carmine Menduni, president of Columbus Art Memorial, which installed the fountain, said it’s not.

He said the area around the fountain was holding the water after the bentonite was put down. The fountain weighs 750,000 pounds, he said.

The company turned on the fountain on Friday to test it for 72 hours.

“Everything is working correctly,” Menduni said. “(But) to have a fountain, you have to have water.”

City officials are to meet with representatives of the Friends of Goodale Park and others to discuss what to do next, Leist said.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Columbus Dispatch: City’s rental market growing tighter

City’s rental market growing tighter

In some areas, fewer apartments are available and those that are cost more, reports show

By  Jim Weiker
The Columbus Dispatch Thursday April 12, 2012 6:41 AM

Two new reports reinforce what most central Ohio tenants already know: Rents are rising, and rentals are getting harder to find.

The rental market has tightened more in Columbus in the past year than in all but eight U.S. cities, according to commercial real-estate firm Marcus & Millichap. The report concluded that about 7 percent of Columbus apartments are empty, down from nearly 9 percent a year ago.

In a separate report, real-estate listing firm Zillow found that rents for Columbus-area homes and apartments have risen nearly 13 percent over the past year to an average of $984 a month.

Central Ohio experts agree that local rents have risen over the past year but say they are nowhere near that high when looking at conventional apartments.

“We’re not even close to that number,” said Robert Vogt, a partner in the Columbus real-estate research firm Vogt Santer Insights.

Vogt said rents have risen 2 percent to 2.2 percent over the past 12 months throughout central Ohio, though the figure is closer to 5 percent or 6 percent in some high-demand areas such as Downtown, the Short North and around the northern stretch of I-270.

Available apartments in those areas are correspondingly harder to find, with vacancies in the Downtown area particularly rare. Overall, more than 93 percent of central Ohio apartments are occupied, Vogt said.

Vogt said he expects rents to rise about 3 percent this year before possibly tapering off when several new proposed apartment complexes open.

One of the biggest projects on the drawing board is a 300-unit complex recently announced for Columbus Commons park on the site of the former Columbus City Center mall. At least eight more complexes are proposed throughout central Ohio, including several in the Short North area.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Columbus Dispatch: City fills Goodale Park pond, hopes past leaks are fixed

City fills Goodale Park pond, hopes past leaks are fixed

By Mark Ferenchik

The Columbus Dispatch Tuesday April 10, 2012 4:54 PM

The city is filling the Goodale Park pond — again.

Water was flowing this morning into the pond from more than 1,000 feet of hose connected to a fire hydrant on Goodale Avenue.

Crews put down bentonite, a clay that expands when wet, to seal the leak or leaks that caused the pond to drain last year.

City firefighters pumped more than 4 million gallons over three days in September and October, only to see the water disappear.

The pond was drained earlier last year so the Friends of Goodale Park could install a fountain and sculpture of two elephants at the pond.

That was to be finished last June, but wasn’t. In August, the city ended up refunding $2,400 to six bridal parties who had reserved the park’s gazebo. The Friends group paid a wedding planner to design drapes and ferns to block the construction area from the gazebo.

The city will fill the pond through Thursday. Will it stay full this time? Check back later this week.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Columbus Dispatch: ‘Gastropub’ headed to Short North

‘Gastropub’ headed to Short North

Cameron Mitchell plans Pearl oyster house

By  Tim Feran
The Columbus Dispatch Friday April 6, 2012 5:15 AM

Cameron Mitchell will launch his first new restaurant in five years when the Pearl Restaurant, Tavern & Oyster Room opens this fall in the Short North.

The Pearl — a “gastropub” that focuses on locally sourced, upscale food in a casual, tavernlike atmosphere — will be located at 641 N. High St. in the space formerly occupied by the Burgundy Room.

Mitchell started opening restaurants in Columbus in 1993, but the last time Mitchell introduced a new concept was in 2007, when his company opened the Italian-themed Marcella’s in the Short North.

It was the location that lured the Columbus-based restaurateur to plan the new restaurant.

“We love the Short North,” Mitchell said. “Marcella’s has been very successful. We leased the space without knowing what we were going to put in there. I just knew I liked the space.”

At approximately 4,400 square feet, the Pearl is “a little bit smaller than Marcella’s,” he said, which is about 5,000 square feet. The new restaurant will hold 150-160 patrons, compared with Marcella’s 200.

The company leased the space last fall and began to talk with officials with the city and Victorian Village about making changes, including a new facade and relocation of a staircase.

“There’s just a lot of stuff we had to do before we could plan a restaurant,” Mitchell said. “It took a fairly long time, by our standards.”

The changes will cost about $1.5 million, he said.

As for the menu, “the location really drove the concept of what we wanted to put there,” he said.

Like the Short North itself, the Pearl’s gastropub theme is trendy. The concept has been in vogue for the past five or six years in the United States after having been created in Britain.

“Most have a twist to them,” said Dennis Lombardi, executive vice president/foodservice strategies with WD Partners.

The twist, in this case, could be the fresh, raw oysters that the Pearl plans to offer.

That menu item is “unique to the Short North,” Mitchell said.

The menu also will include locally grown and organic foods.

“Everything in the restaurant is basically from scratch with a high degree of culinary skill behind it. Even our steak sauce is made fresh,” Mitchell said.

The Pearl also will offer an extensive beer list “that reads like a wine list,” as well as an eclectic selection of wines.

The Pearl’s Short North location is “clearly the right place to put it,” Lombardi said. “In fact, it’s the only location that comes to mind just because of the density of residential housing, the proximity to the Arena District and Convention Center and the amount of traffic.”

Another restaurant-industry observer agrees that the restaurant’s future is bright.

“It’s got a lot of potential,” said Bob Welcher, president and CEO of Restaurant Consultants, Inc. “It follows a trend of high-end food and drink in a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere without pretension. (Mitchell is) blending all the things that are hot right now.”

Plans call for the Pearl to open at 4 p.m. and be dinner-only, starting with a happy hour and continuing into late night.


   Cameron Mitchell Restaurants owns a catering company, founded in 2001, and these restaurants:

   In central Ohio:

   • Cameron’s American Bistro, Worthington

   • Cap City Fine Diner & Bar, Grandview Heights and Gahanna areas

   • Martini Modern Italian, Short North

   • Mitchell’s Ocean Club, Easton Town Center

   • Marcella’s, Short North and Polaris

   Source: Cameron Mitchell Restaurants

   • M, Downtown

   • Molly Woo’s Asian Bistro, Polaris


   • Seven Ocean Prime restaurants (the out-of-town name for Mitchell’s Ocean Club)

   • Two more are planned, one opening this year in Indianapolis, another in Houston in 2014

Thursday, April 5, 2012

City will name first female police chief this afternoon

City will name first female police chief this afternoon

Kimberley Jacobs is a 33-year veteran of the Columbus Police Division

 The story is here

By  Doug Caruso
The Columbus Dispatch Thursday April 5, 2012 12:09 PM

Kimberley Jacobs will be named the city’s new police chief today, police sources confirmed this morning.

Jacobs, 54, has been a police officer since 1979 and was promoted to deputy chief in 2009. She will be the first woman to hold the post of police chief in Columbus.

Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s office scheduled a 3 p.m. news conference in the City Council chamber at City Hall.

As a deputy chief, Jacobs oversaw the administrative subdivision, which handles budgeting, personnel and other issues. She also served as the division’s liaison to Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s and Safety Director Mitchell J. Brown’s offices.

In 2010, Jacobs was the architect of a redistricting plan that was designed to place officers where they were most needed.

It went into effect over the objection of the city’s police union in July of that year. In October, neighborhood leaders interviewed by The Dispatch said the changes had gone smoothly and, in some cases, helped address police-coverage issues.

“I have demonstrated the courage to make difficult and, at times, unwelcome, decisions that are necessary to advancing our organization and increasing our efficiency,” Jacobs wrote in her application letter.

Jacobs will take the place of Police Chief Walter Distelzwieg, who retired this year. She was among four deputy chiefs who applied for the job.
Reporter Theodore Decker contributed to this story.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Columbus Dispatch: Developer plans apartments at Columbus Commons


By  Doug Caruso
The Columbus Dispatch Wednesday April 4, 2012 3:03 PM

Six-story, red-brick apartment buildings are to begin rising over the Columbus Commons in August under a plan that begins the redevelopment of the former Columbus City Center mall site years earlier than expected.

Carter, the nation’s third-largest commercial developer last year based on square footage, is purchasing 2 acres of the commons along High Street for $2 million from the Capitol South Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. The Atlanta-based developer plans to invest a total of $50 million to construct two buildings with 300 apartments and 23,000 square feet of first-floor retail space.

Capitol South chose Carter after two rounds of proposals for the site, Guy Worley, president of the nonprofit development group, said today.

“Carter really met our objectives in regards to the density and the look and the quality of the design,” Worley said. Carter has experience with another signature residential and retail project on the Cincinnati riverfront between the city’s baseball and football stadiums, he said.

Carter’s interest shows that public investments in Downtown are paying off, said Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

“You cannot disconnect public investment elsewhere with private investment here,” Coleman said, pointing to the Columbus Commons, Scioto Mile, new bridges and a plan announced yesterday to create parkland along the Scioto River.

Scott Taylor, president of Carter, said trends in Columbus’ Downtown made it a good investment.

“The vision that Mayor Coleman and Capitol South and the Columbus Partnership have for Downtown is extraordinary,” he said. “Columbus has a tremendous amount of momentum. You don’t see that in a lot of markets through the United States.”

He noted that five-year occupancy rates for Downtown apartments are above 95 percent and annual rent growth is 2.4 percent.

Rents at the Columbus Commons apartments would range from about $960 per month for a 600-square-foot studio to about $2,500 for a 1,600-square-foot townhome, Taylor said. That’s similar to the $1.60 per-square-foot price seen in other high-end Columbus apartments, he said.

The project should be completed by January 2014, Worley and Taylor said.

In the next few weeks, Capitol South will take its plans before the Columbus City Council and the Downtown Commission. The council would have to sign off on the sale of the property and on a tax-increment financing district that would set aside new property taxes there for streets and other infrastructure improvements nearby.

The property is already under a 10-year property-tax abatement, so the tax-increment district would go into effect after that expires, Worley said. He said the tax set-aside would not affect school taxes.

Coleman said the abatement and the tax-increment financing district helped close the gap to make the deal possible.

“Without those, this would not have occurred,” he said.

The Downtown Commission would review whether the project design fits in with Downtown.

Capitol South originally planned to announce the project next week. Worley and others agreed to talk after The Dispatch, citing the Ohio Open Records Act, requested and obtained a copy of the presentation that Capitol South officials were taking around to city leaders.

In 2009, Capitol South and city officials announced a plan to tear down the nearly empty City Center mall and replace it with a 9-acre park. The plan retained 1,000 parking spaces in an underground garage beneath the park and 3,600 spaces in garages nearby. In five to 10 years, Worley said then, new retail, residential and office developments would rise around the borders of the park, and a 6-acre park would remain in the middle.

Capitol South, which was created to oversee the development of City Center in the 1980s, purchased the struggling mall in 2007 for $2.88 million. Demolishing the mall and turning it into a park cost about $20 million, with $15 million coming from Capitol South, $3 million from Franklin County and $2 million from Franklin County Metro Parks.

The apartment plan, starting just three years after the 2009 announcement, would cover three of the four building sites with two, six-story red-brick apartment buildings along the east side of High Street, roughly between State and Rich streets. A wide, tree-lined lane is to be left open in the center for access to the park from High Street, and a pedestrian arcade would tunnel through the first floor of the southern-most building.

Ground-floor restaurants would face onto High Street, the arcade and the park, Taylor said, giving people a variety of indoor and outdoor seating options, including on patios facing the park.

“It’ll be a European experience there with lots of activity,” he said.

The remaining building site, at the southeast corner of 3rd and Rich streets, awaits a major employer willing to build an office tower there, Worley said.

The apartments will be marketed to young professionals, many of whom are already on waiting lists for other apartment complexes Downtown, Worley said. Amenities will include a second-floor swimming pool overlooking the park.

“There’s a strong demand for new rental residential product Downtown, and I don’t see that ending any time soon,” Worley said. The buildings could eventually be converted to condominiums, and the units will have the amenities to make that possible, he said.

Columbus Dispatch: City plans to demolish 5th Avenue dam

City plans to demolish 5th Avenue dam

Removal this summer to open green space at OSU

 By  Mark Ferenchik

The Columbus Dispatch Wednesday April 4, 2012 5:06 AM

Columbus plans to demolish the 5th Avenue dam along the Olentangy River this summer, a project that will significantly narrow the river near Ohio Stadium and remove a hazard where a man drowned almost four years ago.

Ohio State University officials say they plan to create a riverfront park and use the Olentangy to attract people to the water’s edge.

Trees, shrubs and other plants will be placed in the vacated river channel, and crews will create wetlands.

If the Oval was the university’s iconic space for the past century, “maybe the river becomes the space for the next 100 years,” said Terry Foegler, Ohio State’s associate vice president of physical planning and real estate.

On Friday, the university’s board of trustees will vote on an environmental covenant with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency promising that the river corridor will be protected.

Ohio State and the city are working out language with the agency. The university owns 40 acres of riverbed and riverbank land along the river. The covenant guarantees that it will restore any part of the area if it buries utilities or does other work along the river, Foegler said.

The city said the demolition and improvements along the stream between the dam’s location and Lane Avenue will cost $5.5 million. About $3.6 million in state money will help pay for the project. Columbus advertised for bids last week.

The city wants to begin work in August. If it can’t, it might wait until next year.

The dam is on a 2-mile stretch of the Olentangy between Dodridge Avenue and where it joins with the Scioto River.

The 8-foot-high, 470-foot-wide dam is one of six low-head dams along the Olentangy in Franklin County. It was built in 1935 to provide water to cool Ohio State’s old power plant.

But low-head dams are dangerous. The roiling waters at their base have been described as a “ drowning machine,’’ because people become trapped in the hydraulic pull.

In June 2008, Christian Hallam died when his inner tube raft went over the dam.

That year, OSU scientists, engineers and researchers wrote that the dam’s removal would create a meandering, shallower and narrower stream that would improve water quality and lead to a more-diverse population of fish and invertebrates.

OSU officials are comfortable that removing the dam and changing the water level and flood plain won’t pose a significant risk to the structural integrity of Ohio Stadium, the Drake Union or the university’s Wexner Medical Center, said planning director Laura Shinn.

The university plans to remove the berm along the river between John H. Herrick Drive and King Avenue as part of its Cannon Drive relocation project, she said.

Ohio State would landscape the area along the river and create a park after officials see where the water goes, she said.

“It’s not going to be beautiful for the first couple of seasons,” Shinn said.

The maximum width of the river behind the dam will be reduced from 520 feet to 210 feet, said George Zonders, the city’s public utilities spokesman.

The Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed supports the dam removal.

“What they did back in the 1930s by building an impoundment dam is make a lake where a stream should be,” said Laura Fay, the group’s chairwoman.