With a recent legal victory under its belt, the Columbus Maennerchor is looking down the road by looking a little north up High Street.
Officials of the German singing society, which recently was on the winning end of a 10-year-old lawsuit, said they want to expand by adding roughly 2,000 square feet adjacent to the German Heritage House, formerly called the Dutch House, which it now calls home.
That proposal is partly the result of a recent decision by the Ohio Supreme Court, which essentially upheld a jury's earlier decision to award the Maennerchor $756,000 in punitive damages and $225,000 for attorney fees.
Werner Niehaus, president of the Maennerchor, said the money will be used to pay off outstanding debt.
"What I say in general is we will be debt free with a small amount left over," he said.
The Maennerchor would like to buy back a portion of its old headquarters, 966 S. High St., adjacent to the Heritage House. It would be part of an overall plan to redevelopment the vacant Maennerchor site.
Galbreath Properties of Dublin wants to build a new 3 1/2-story, 18-unit residential development on the Brewery District property.
Maennerchor officials said they hope to construct an addition to their building on the sliver of land between the proposed condos and Heritage House to be used for a larger rehearsal space, and storage for the music library and historical documents, Niehaus said.
Still in the planning phase, the development would open up the opportunity for the Maennerchor's expansion, which is necessary to accommodate the club's growth, said Harry Woith, membership secretary for the organization.
"We have a problem. We've outgrown this space," Woith said. "That's a good problem."
The Maennerchor has 136 social members and 90 members in its singing groups -- roughly 30 each men, women and children.
"The growing itself is really in the choirs," Niehaus said. "And we get young people in and that is the most important issue."
Shortly after moving into its new space, the Maennerchor hired Valter Veliu to lease a restaurant -- called Valter's at Maennerchor -- inside the Heritage House. Membership is not required to dine at the restaurant, which has introduced the singing groups to a wider audience.
"When we sing Tuesday nights, people can see what we do," Niehaus said.
The lawsuit resulted when former Maennerchor board member and real-estate developer Walter Reiner was trying to purchase the Maennerchor building for half of what another company was willing to pay, and the deal fell through.
The Maennerchor's leadership argued that Reiner's "... continued and consistent interference ..." cost them the sale, which led to a lawsuit.
A jury subsequently awarded the Maennerchor $756,000 in punitive damages and $225,000 for attorney fees.
On Dec. 16, the state Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the jury's decision -- also upheld by a previous appellate court ruling -- essentially ending the dispute.