Re­tail planned for va­cant lot in Clin­tonville

The Columbus Dispatch - - Metro&state - By Mark Ferenchik The Colum­bus Dis­patch

A long-va­cant site on North High Street in the heart of Colum­bus’ Clin­tonville neigh­bor­hood might be home to new re­tail­ers, based on a devel­op­ment plan and build­ing per­mit ap­pli­ca­tion filed with the city.

Black Gate Part­ners, based in Colum­bus, bought the half-acre site in De­cem­ber. Ac­cord­ing to its ap­pli­ca­tion, the com­pany plans to build

a one-story, 7,700-square­foot build­ing with three re­tail store­fronts for $1.5 mil­lion.

The site at 3373-3383 N. High St., be­tween West North Broad­way and Brighton Road, has been va­cant since 2010, when the Clin­tonville Elec­tric and 83-year-old Clin­ton The­ater build­ings were de­mol­ished, leav­ing a gap in the streetscape of the bustling neigh­bor­hood.

Since then, res­i­dents and busi­ness­peo­ple have been anx­iously await­ing what was next for that space. In 2015, North­star Realty pro­posed a five-story build­ing fea­tur­ing apart­ments and stores. But the com­mu­nity pushed back, with many say­ing the build­ing was too tall and out of char­ac­ter for the neigh­bor­hood. That project died.

Micha Bit­ton of Black Gate Part­ners de­clined to talk about the project, say­ing it would be an­other week or two be­fore he was ready to do so.

The de­vel­op­ers have dis­cussed their gen­eral plans with Clin­tonville area com­mis­sion­ers, in­clud­ing Khara Nemitz, who rep­re­sents the area that in­cludes the site. Nemitz said Bit­ton ap­proached her sev­eral months ago to get a sense of what the neigh­bor­hood wanted there.

“Clin­tonville can be known for be­ing anti-devel­op­ment. That’s not true. They want thought­ful devel­op­ment — devel­op­ment that fits in with the com­mu­nity,” Nemitz said.

The com­mis­sioner, a Brighton Road res­i­dent, said the site is now a big empty field that no one can use. “It’s re­ally

frus­trat­ing,” she said. “The com­mu­nity is ex­cited to have some­thing fill­ing that space.”

An­other Brighton Road res­i­dent, Mar­ilee Crofts, said she op­posed the ear­lier North­star pro­posal. “I didn’t mind that it was va­cant,” she said of the site, ad­ding that she wouldn’t mind it stay­ing that way. She just doesn’t want a drive-through drug­store or an all-night con­ve­nience store there.

Jenny Smith, pres­i­dent of the Clin­tonville Cham­ber of Com­merce, said she be­lieves res­i­dents will be ex­cited they can walk to busi­nesses. “Most of our com­mu­nity would like to see some­thing there,” she said.

The city’s Depart­ment of Build­ing and Zon­ing Ser­vices has not yet ap­proved the site plan. The own­ers still need to sub­mit a stormwa­ter man­age­ment plan.

Lou Slowek owns the Cu­ri­ousity Shop next door to the site. Black Gate bought his build­ing as well, and he plans to stay. Slowek, who has run his vin­tage jew­elry busi­ness for 14 years, said busi­ness ac­tu­ally picked up for him since the build­ings were de­mol­ished more than eight years ago.

“We had peo­ple say, ‘We didn’t even know you were here.’ They’d see the empty build­ing and drive on,” Slowek said.

“It’s a shame they tore down the the­ater,” he added. “I hoped to see some­thing like a per­form­ing arts the­ater.”

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