The vacant, deteriorating municipal power plant on the western edge of the Arena District could soon find a new owner to renovate and repurpose the historic brick structure. The city has asked interested parties to submit a proposal to buy and renovate a portion of the property at 555 Nationwide Blvd. that once provided electricity to Columbus.
April 30, 2014
The vacant, deteriorating municipal power plant on the western edge of the Arena District could soon find a new owner to renovate and repurpose the historic brick structure.
The city has asked interested parties to submit a proposal to buy and renovate a portion of the property at 555 Nationwide Blvd. that once provided electricity to Columbus.
The proposals are due on May 8, and time is of the essence.
"A delay is not an option as we've had reports with concerns about it making it through another winter," said Steven Schoeny, the city's development director. "It's not that the whole thing would collapse, but there'd be a lot more damage and bricks falling off."
About 1.2 acres of the site is for sale, including the original power plant built in 1904 and " as an option, the adjacent chimney stack and boiler plant," according to the city's request for proposals.
The city will retain the remainder of the property, which includes a major electrical substation.
Because of access issues, Schoeny said the site would be best suited for a residential project or small office complex.
One of the bidders will be Garth's, an auction house in Delaware.
The company is celebrating its 60th anniversary and "to solidify our success for the next 60 years, we need a facility that is more central," said Jeff Jeffers, co-owner of the auction house with his wife, Amelia.
"It will require a very thoughtful and detailed restoration," he said. "It's not in the best of shape, but it could be a beautiful space if done right."
About 50 people attended a recent open house at the site. Schoeny expects "more than two bids and less than 10."
The price offered, as well as the bidder's ability to renovate and successfully operate the completed project, will determine the city's selection, he said.
The original generator plant is a masonry-clad, steel-frame building with a gable roof with significant brick and stone detailing not found in more-modern buildings.
However, the roof leaks and there are cracks in the walls as a result of water damage and tree roots, according to the city.
"The challenge is the property is in such disrepair," said Mike Simpson of NAI Ohio Equities. " But I love the location and the look of the building, the historic feel. It has a lot of potential, unless it's too far gone."
Nationwide Realty Investors built the Arena District to the east of the plant and also owns about 25 vacant acres on the north side of Nationwide Boulevard. That is the former site of the Jaeger Machine Co. and had been proposed as the site for Hollywood Casino Columbus at one time.
"We are continuing to explore options for the development of the Jaeger Machine site," said Nationwide spokeswoman Tina Guegold in an email. "We believe it would be a great residential site, but we haven't ruled out other potential uses."