German Village Gazette

Stewart Alternative Elementary School

Redesign still calls for Pearl closure

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This architect's drawing depicts planned restoration and an addition to Stewart Alternative Elementary School in German Village.

Officials from Columbus City Schools have recast their renovation plans for Stewart Alternative Elementary School in German Village.

The design now combines an 18,000-square-foot addition, a slight increase over the last plan, and existing school on one parcel instead of two.

The district previously had called for the addition to be built on the Columbus Maennerchor property, directly to the west.

Carole Olshavksy, senior executive of capital improvements for the district, said the changes primarily were made because of functional requirements within the building, budget concerns and new traffic patterns.

It does not affect the cost of the renovation and addition, which is a little less than $11 million.

The district presented the latest proposal Oct. 2 to the German Village Commission, which expressed continued reservations with the project, particularly the closing of Pearl Alley.

At issue is the district's desire to have the city vacate, or close, the alley, which runs north and south between the Stewart school and the now-vacant Maennerchor.

The commission, meanwhile, says it wants to protect the historic integrity of the neighborhood by keeping the alley open.

Olshavsky said the current design preserves the historic value of the village, but indeed closes it to vehicular traffic.

"The district has never intended, in any submissions, for the alley to be open for use," she said.

In the previous design, a walkway would have connected the school with the addition across Pearl.

Current plans call for playground amenities and a parking lot to be placed on the west side of Stewart across the alley.

The addition, a portion of which is 21/2 stories above the pavement, will have a gymnasium with a stage, kitchen, eight classrooms and a portion of the administrative offices.

School officials want to repair the school, built in the late 1800s, which was badly damaged in a fire in 2010.

Chris Hune, chairperson of the German Village Society's historic preservation committee, said some people in the neighborhood are concerned the addition will diminish the appearance the architecture of the original school, 40 E. Stewart Ave.

The German Village Commission did not vote on the matter.

Instead, the district is expected to ask for a joint meeting between the Brewery District and German Village commissions because the project crosses both historic boundaries.

Both commissions are expected to vote on the issue next month, possibly at the same meeting.