COLUMBUS (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST) — The redevelopment of the Schumacher Place Giant Eagle, a project that has earned vocal pushback from its neighbors, has gotten the city’s official sign-off.

Monday night, Columbus City Council granted the developer, Pizutti Cos., a variance allowing for ground-floor townhouse-style residential units on the site and rezoned the property.

The legislation passed by council on Monday permits the construction of a mixed-use building at 280 E. Whittier St., which will contain 8,250-square-feet of retail uses and 262 residential units. The development will also be served by a 262-space garage and 17 on-street parking spaces, in a terraced building that rises 4.5 stories closer to the commercial corridor and 3.5 stories closer to the homes. NBBJ is the architect for the project.

Residents have said they felt the building was much too big for the site, as the development was originally proposed. Some residents compared the proposed development to a whale.

Jon Riewald, vice president of development at the Pizutti Cos., said the firm has taken time to address neighbors’ concerns about traffic, the size of the development and more. Pizutti completed a traffic study, parking study and a sun study, among others, throughout the course of planning.

“We need to face the reality that Columbus is a growing city. We have a housing shortage and within the next nine years we are projected to surpass a million people within the city of Columbus,” Riewald said. “The question is really, where are these people going to live? It’s critical for the success of our city to make sure we are putting forward quality, dense urban infill along transit quarters adjacent to transit job centers.”

Changes made in response to resident feedback include a reduction in size and the addition of additional strategic landscaping.

Some residents remain opposed to the project, saying the building is too tall and that the developer’s changes were not enough. There were three speakers against the development and three in favor of the development at Monday’s meeting.

Brenda Gischel, president of the Schumacher Place Civic Association, asked the council to “play by their own rules,” and not rezone the site. She said that she felt the city’s process failed her and her neighborhood.

Gischel and Chris Hune, president of the Board of Trustees of the German Village Society, said those in opposition are not opposed to development at the site, but are opposed to a development like this.

Resident Robert Leis, who was wearing a t-shirt with a blue whale emblazoned on the front, said he was in support of the project and challenged developers across the city to work on building affordable housing.

“We can build our way out of the impending (affordable housing) crisis, but only if what we build is truly equitable and accessible for all members of our community,” Leis said. “Columbus is an ecosystem. Like all ecosystems, it needs diversity to thrive. Even whales are an important part of the ecosystem we need here in Columbus.”

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