Whitehall News

4445 E. Broad St.

New 6.4-acre library site purchased for $550K

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The new Whitehall branch of Columbus Metropolitan Library won't move far from its existing location at East Broad Street and South Yearling Road.

The CML trustees on June 12 approved the purchase of a 6.4-acre parcel at 4445 E. Broad St. for $550,000.

The new site is more than six times the size of the 0.93-acre parcel on which the Whitehall branch sits.

The new parcel is undeveloped, was purchased from a privately owned estate and is on the south side of East Broad Street, just east of South Yearling Road.

"A lot about this site spoke to us," said CML trustee Kerry Bierman, who also is director of the 2020 Vision Plan for CML.

The site once was meant to be part of a subdivision, Bierman said.

"That subdivision was never built, and it remained undeveloped," he said.

The site also has historical significance as one of the earliest air strips in Ohio, a site where World War I pilot and central Ohio native Eddie Rickenbacker was known to operate aircraft, Bierman said.

A small marker noting the site as such will be incorporated into the design of the new library.

In February, representatives from CML, Jonathan Barnes Architectural & Design and Rounthwaite, Dick & Hadley Architects inspected eight sites, which were evaluated based on criteria the CML board had identified.

The CML board wanted a site between 3 to 6 acres, located on an arterial road, close to the existing branch and centrally located to meet CML system needs.

Among the final sites considered was the former Safe Auto headquarters on East Broad Street, but that site required "corrective action" that might have included demolition of the building to allow for the construction of a new building.

CML also passed on the purchase of a 3.1-acre site at Etna Road and County Club Road. The city-owned site is the former Swimland, a privately owned pool that had closed and recently was demolished.

Library officials considered the site to be "too far west and not centrally located to meet the expanding library system needs."

"All the other sites (also) had a structure that would have required some kind of modification or demolition, (and) that was a factor in the site we chose," Bierman said. "This site works well for us because of the traffic we anticipate from (Defense Logistics Agency), a federal base just east of the new site," Bierman said.

Maintaining a location on a major arterial road, East Broad Street also provides convenience for patrons, some of whom might not live in Whitehall, to pick up or return items, particularly reserved items, while en route to other destinations.

"It has good proximity to schools, too," he said.

Columbus Metropolitan Library is purchasing the site for $550,000 from the estate of Mary. M. Woods.

The purchase price was slightly less than the $580,000 at which the parcel was appraised.

The existing Whitehall branch, at 4371 E. Broad St., opened in 1959. It was renovated in 1982, and an addition was built in 1993.

However, that addition left the site with less than adequate parking, and that was one criterion used in selecting the Whitehall branch as one of two to rebuild first as part of the CML's 2020 Vision Plan.

The existing Whitehall branch is 7,466 square feet. The $7.5 million Whitehall branch will be approximately 20,000 square feet and is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2014.

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