Proposed renovations to Stewart Alternative Elementary School cleared two of three hurdles Nov. 7 during a joint meeting of the German Village and Brewery District commissions.
Both architectural review boards agreed on the most contentious issue of all -- the closing of Pearl Street -- with a stipulation designed to prevent any future development on the vacated portion of Pearl, regardless of who owns it now or later.
While members of each commission expressed serious concern about permanently changing traffic patterns in the area, it was worth the inconvenience to drivers so that the project could begin, they said.
The commissions held a combined meeting because the project crosses both historic district boundaries.
Officials with Columbus City Schools had maintained closing the street was necessary for the safety of school children.
The redevelopment plans call for the consolidation of classrooms, a gymnasium and offices on current school grounds, at the northwest corner of Stewart and City Park avenues.
Meanwhile, parking and playground facilities would be located on the west side of Pearl, posing a threat to children walking back and forth across the street.
Total cost of the project is about $11 million.
The commissions' recommendations are not binding on the street closing.
Approval must come from the Columbus Division of Transportation.
The Brewery District Commission also gave thumbs up to a variance demolishing portions of the vacant Columbus Maennerchor, which is across Pearl, but faces South High Street.
The plan is to preserve the facade and make some cosmetic improvements compatible with the neighborhood.
The German Village Commission tabled a vote on the final site plan for Stewart, which will include an 18,000-square-foot addition.
The school will have the capacity for 350 students, 70 more than it previously had.
Commission chairman Jay Panzer said he wasn't comfortable voting on the design because some elements had changed since the last meeting.
The commission was expected to meet Nov. 13 to further discuss and possibly approve the plan.
Stewart was badly damaged in a fire in July 2010.
The students were reassigned to Beck Elementary School while the Stewart project is under way.