Old townhome could become newest Columbus Ohio tavern


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Aug 19, 2023

Old townhome could become newest Columbus Ohio tavern

by: Sarah Szilagy Posted: Jun 5, 2023 / 06:30 AM EDT Updated: Jun 5,

by: Sarah Szilagy

Posted: Jun 5, 2023 / 06:30 AM EDT

Updated: Jun 5, 2023 / 11:32 AM EDT

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A 2-bed, 1.5-bath Franklinton townhome may soon trade its bedrooms and bathtubs for the chatter and bustle of bar patrons.

A homeowner and member of the East Franklinton Review Board received approval from his fellow board members in late May to transform the single-family residence at 500 W. Walnut St. into a neighborhood tavern. It's an opportunity to create community space while maintaining some historic character of the rapidly-developing area of Columbus, Jim Sweeney, the former longtime executive director of the Franklinton Development Association, said.

"My original goal in doing these kind of projects is to find ways to adapt and reuse the houses so they don't fall under the wrecking ball like everything else around us," Sweeney said at a recent review board meeting.

Site plans of Sweeney's vision for the property show a 500-square-foot back deck with steel railings and stairs leading to a ground-level concrete patio. A service window provides back deck servers direct access to the inside bar.

Most of the house's first floor would be converted into the main room and bar area of the tavern, with a 110-square-foot outdoor patio added to the front. Upstairs would house one of the tavern's three bathrooms and a storage area overlooking the dining room below.

To build an ADA-compliant entrance and ramp, Sweeney must cut down the mature tree in his front yard – the only tree on the street, he noted. He's committed to replacing the tree elsewhere on his property and adding evergreen plants along the side of the building.

The commissioners were fine with the tree removal – being on Sweeney's private property, they couldn't object to it anyway – but they nearly ground the meeting to a halt over Sweeney's request to maintain the short chain link fence that frames some of the property.

Chain link fences now fall out of step with the East Franklinton Creative Community District Plan, the city's blueprint for developing the district. The 2012 plan, which Sweeney helped craft, envisions a walkable, vibrant East Franklinton teeming with mixed-use buildings, cafes and small businesses, and public green and recreational space.

Three-foot-high chain link fences are not included in that vision, but wood privacy fences are, commissioners told Sweeney. With an eye toward Town Street on the corner – a prime target in the district for development – Sweeney believes an opaque fence defeats the purpose of the development plan.

"I don't think a 6-foot-high privacy fence is going to instill the sort of community aspect that we’re trying to get on Walnut Street and, frankly, in Franklinton," Sweeney said.

Still, he acquiesced to commissioners’ request that he install a wood-plank privacy fence, if only temporarily, until the city finalizes changes to the zoning code. After confirming it could proceed by including the stipulation in the meeting minutes, the commission approved Sweeney's plan for the lot.

As the applicant, Sweeney recused himself from the vote and commission's discussion of the proposal. His proposal must receive city approval before the project can proceed.



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