Main Bar demolition approved, but city wants a redevelopment plan

Columbus Business First

COLUMBUS (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST) — The Main Bar building is coming down, but the property’s future is not yet set.

The Columbus Downtown Commission Tuesday voted 5-1 to demolish the building at 16 W. Main St., a two-story structure that dates back to the 1890s and has spent most of its life as a local watering hole. Its last iteration, The Main Bar, closed in February.

It’ll be replaced, for now, with seven parking spots, filling out the parking lot on which the property sits. But that isn’t expected to be the property’s long-term fate.

Property owner Schiff Properties has said that with the demolition of that building, it now has a 21,000-square-foot rectangle that will be ready for redevelopment. It acquired the site in 2016 and owns multiple neighboring parcels.

President Jared Schiff, speaking at the meeting, said they’ve been having discussions about the site’s future for the past year and could have a more detailed plan to the city in the next six months to a year.

“We really want to do something beautiful at that corner,” he said.

The commission put a condition on the approval, giving Schiff two years to bring a redevelopment plan to the city. If that doesn’t happen they will have to upgrade the entire parking lot to current city standards for landscaping and other requirements.

The property was inspected twice, once at the request of the applicant and once by a third-party inspector brought in by the city. Both reports said the building was unsafe and needed to be demolished.

“Demolition by neglect” was the term the city used.

Columbus Landmarks Foundation, on Facebook, criticized the decision to add more surface parking downtown, calling the seven additional spots an “embarrassing step backward,” though the discussion in the meeting was that parking would be an interim use until the site is redeveloped.

The foundation acknowledged this at the end of its statement.

“We encourage the property owner to take advantage of this key site with a real plan and a commitment to and investment in a healthy and successful city,” they said.

Bob Loversidge, who was the opposing vote, said he’s restored buildings in worse shape than this one and that given the age a damp, wet basement and crumbling mortar are to be expected.

“If that were the criteria there wouldn’t be any old buildings left in Columbus,” he said.

He said he didn’t view the specific building as important, noting that if there were others around it, it would just be in the background.

“It’s not a spectacular landmark,” he said. “On the other hand, every time we lose a building like this the ones that remain become much more valuable.”

For more business headlines, go to ColumbusBusinessFirst.com.

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