West Side News

Metro West owners seek to halt demolition of buildings


The owners of what was once the largest apartment complex in central Ohio have filed for a temporary restraining order to stop Prairie Township from razing 17 buildings on Georgesville Road.

Township officials say they have been trying unsuccessfully since 2008 to get the owners of Metro West -- Wingates of Washington, D.C. and Showgates of New York, both limited liability partnerships -- to bring the buildings into compliance with safety and building codes.

In July, township fire and building officials asked the trustees to take action.

Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker said the owners had until Dec. 10 to either begin demolition or be working with a buyer. Neither happened, he said.

The township plans to have the buildings demolished within the next two weeks.

"We do not trust them to do anything constructive with the land," Hatmaker said.

Columbus attorney Robert Behal, representing Metro West's owners, said his clients contend that the state law that allows the township's demolition order does not provide for an appeal, which violates their right to due process.

According to Hatmaker, the 17 buildings contain 408 units and are wholly in Prairie Township. The remaining five buildings are either partly or wholly in Franklin Township.

The buildings are the original "Californian" section of the old Lincoln Park West on Georgesville Road across from the Hollywood Casino Columbus.

The $2-million demolition cost will be paid by the Columbus land bank and an Ohio Attorney General's Office fund to demolish vacant buildings.

Overall, Metro West included 1,675 units. A fire there in 2004 killed 10 people.