Upper Arlington News

UA developer plans to raze Lane Avenue building

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An artist's rendering shows the stone facade of a building MGJ Ventures LLC wants to erect at 1515 W. Lane Ave., after a vacant structure now on the site is razed.

An Upper Arlington developer plans to raze a Lane Avenue office building that city officials have dubbed "obsolete" and redevelop the site to house a restaurant and its corporate offices.

Jeff Gregg, co-owner of MGJ Ventures LLC, expects to invest $3 million to $4 million in demolishing an office building at 1515 W. Lane Ave. and replacing it with a new, 9,310-square-foot building.

Although he could not confirm the identity of the tenant last week, Gregg said the 6,312-square-foot first floor of the new two-story building will be occupied by a "local/regional restaurant group with a very reputable brand name."

That restaurant will maintain its corporate offices on the building's second floor, pending the finalization of its deal with MGJ.

"We're close to securing a tenant that is a restaurant user," Gregg said. "We have approval to do the development.

"The plan is that in the fall, maybe by October or November, we'll raze the building that's existing," he said. "We hope the tenant will be open for business next spring."

MGJ purchased the existing building at 1515 W. Lane Ave. last February.

Built in 1965, the building was "half occupied for many years," according to an Upper Arlington Planning Division staff report, and is presently nearly vacant.

The staff report further stated the building has "declined in condition over the past five years. An awkward interior configuration with narrow hallways and staircases has made the building essentially obsolete."

Suffice to say, city officials are pleased to see the redevelopment plans, particularly because the site is within the Lane Avenue corridor, which those officials have identified as a key area for economic growth.

"This is the type of redevelopment project that city council envisioned when they established the Lane Avenue Planned Mixed-Use District," said Bob Lamb, Upper Arlington's community and economic development manager. "The city's vision for the corridor is a pedestrian-friendly environment that offers live, work and play opportunities.

"This project helps to further the city's vision by redeveloping the site in a manner that will bring a new restaurant to the community and add to the existing office space in the corridor," he said. "This project continues the trend of new investment within the corridor, similar to projects such as the Hilton Homewood Suites and the expansion of Whole Foods."

Gregg said his company is "going through some modifications" of the redevelopment design, but plans approved by the Upper Arlington Board of Zoning and Planning Commission July 21 include a stone facade, an outdoor patio and a test kitchen that will be visible to patrons inside and outside of building.