The vacant building that formerly was home to a Kmart retail store at Olentangy River and Bethel roads will be replaced by a 329-unit extended-stay hotel.
The discount store, which was built in 1974, but closed in early 2012 and has been vacant at one of the major and more visible intersections on the Northwest Side ever since, is scheduled for demolition to make way for the new project for Westerville-based Preferred Living.
"It was zoned properly," said Rosemarie Lisko, chairwoman of the zoning, graphics and development committee for the Northwest Civic Association Board of Directors.
The proposal therefore did not come before the board for review.
"We have no input in that," Lisko said. "We have no input in any of this."
The website for the Franklin County Auditor's Office lists the 11.5-acre site and 86,597-square-foot building as being valued at $6.01 million.
The most recent transfer of the property took place Sept. 6 when Casto Ohio Property Ltd. sold it to CRMEAT LLC for $3.87 million. That same day it was transferred in-house from CRMEAT to Taylor House LLC.
Although Lisko and NWCA Board President John Ehlers said they applauded redevelopment of the property, they did express reservations last week about the proliferation in the area of such enterprises.
The proposed extended-stay hotel is the fourth such venture already in existence or proposed for the Northwest Side, Lisko said.
"Any time we have an opportunity for redevelopment it's an exciting time, especially when it's a location like that and a parcel that size," Ehlers said.
However, Ehlers pointed out extended-stay hotels built on commercially zoned property don't have to meet some of the requirements for apartment projects, which they more closely resemble than standard hotels.
"There's a lot more flexibility in what happens under the commercial zoning than what happens under multifamily residential, and most of it has to do with creating a residential-like setting, creating yard space, limiting density and making sure there's adequate parking," Ehlers said.
Proposed new regulations for handling extended-stay hotels are being considered by city officials.
Lisko expressed confidence Nicholas I. King of Preferred Living will go above the limited requirements for extended-stay hotels with this project, based on a previous one the development firm handled on the former DeSantis property.
"As it turns out, Mr. King does a beautiful job as far as landscaping and courtyards and pools and all that," Lisko said.
"He does build a quality project in terms of other extended stays that I've seen. Whether the community is going to be happy with it, I can't say, I can't speak for them."
Preferred Living has been developing and managing rental communities in Columbus, Ohio and the surrounding area since 1996, according to the company's website.
"The business has properties in New Albany, Dublin, Westerville, Worthington and Reynoldsburg.
The website says Preferred Living communities include concierge services, monthly resident events and amenities such as pool and fitness facilities, theaters, game rooms, onsite ATMs, full-service business centers and tanning salons. The amenities vary by location according to the website.
"I've heard anything is better than the abandoned Kmart, which was an eyesore," Lisko said. "I think it's going to be an attractive development.
"Over the last couple of years, everyone was calling me and saying we wanted a grocery store, but ... no one wanted to spend the money on that building and put in a grocery store."
King did not respond to requests seeking additional information about the timetable for the Kmart-replacement project.