German Village Gazette

Residents offer mixed responses to housing proposal

Walters wants to turn former St. Mary school into residence

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Bob and Peggy Walter are proposing converting the U.S. Bank building at 673 Mohawk St. into a 13,250-square-foot private residence. The building once was St. Mary Catholic Elementary School and then St. Mary High School. In recent years, it has housed commercial ventures and offices.
By ThisWeek Community News  • 

A massive single-family house planned for 673 Mohawk St. is drawing a mixed reaction from German Village neighbors.

Bob and Peggy Walter's proposal to convert the U.S. Bank building into a 13,250-square-foot private residence -- making it the second largest house in the city of Columbus -- isn't sitting well with Stanley Greenblott of 712 Mohawk.

He considers Mohawk to be a quieter, unpretentious street and that the Walter's house wouldn't be a good addition.

"It's not going to fit in," he said.

However, his wife, Candy Greenblott, said she believes the conversion could be done in a tasteful way.

"In all fairness, I'd have to see the plans," she said. "I'm going to keep an open mind on this."

German Village Commission May 7 took a look at the Walter's conceptual plans, but did not take formal action. More detailed plans are expected to be submitted next month.

George Bennett, an attorney who represents the Walters, said the couple wants to take a dilapidated property, which currently houses the bank and several other office uses, and make it into an attractive residential unit.

They want to build a garage underneath the building, remove most of the blacktopped parking lot and create an attractive, landscaped garden.

The Walters would reserve seven parking spaces.

Bennett said Mr. Walter, the retired founder of Cardinal Health, is now a partner of Talisman Capital Partners, which has an office located downtown.

Bennett said Walter, who was out of the country and not available for an interview, wanted to be closer to his business and friends who live in the downtown area.

"He's simply trying to repurpose the build for a use we feel is consistent with the neighborhood," he said.

The Walters, who bought the Mohawk parcel for $830,000 in January, currently own houses in Dublin, Utah and Florida.

Mohawk resident Heather Phalen said she worries about a prolonged construction project and damage to the brick streets. Nevertheless, she said, she's not opposed.

"It's going to change the neighborhood a little bit," said Phalen, who's lived with her husband, Dave, on the street for nearly 20 years. "I think it's going to be interesting,"

Mr. Phalen, meanwhile, remains staunchly opposed. He said he prefers the current use, a low-impact commercial building.

"I don't think we need it," he said of the house. "I think it's going to cause some problems."

Both Greg Lashutka, the former mayor of Columbus, and his wife Catherine Adams, support the project.

"We are very excited to welcome the Walters to our block," said Adams of 729 Mohawk.

"I think they have a tasteful plan for converting the space to a private residence," she said.

"It will preserve the historical St. Mary School building and convert the parking lot to green space."

Jeffery Smith, whose business and apartment are at 657 Mohawk, said he's intrigued by the proposal.

"It could be a pretty cool house," he said. "It would be like a castle."