If the concept plan for the potential redevelopment of the property at 2015 W. Fifth Ave. becomes a formal plan, the village of Marble Cliff likely will be asked to approve a demolition permit for the 110-year-old building.
Before that happens, village officials will need to consider whether the structure's historic value makes it worthy of preservation, said Tom DeMaria.
The F2 Cos. and Elford Development are proposing a 67-unit apartment building for the site, just east of Roxbury Road and across Fifth Avenue from the border of Upper Arlington.
DeMaria, an emeritus board member of the Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Historical Society, said he hopes village officials keep the building's potential historic value in mind as the project goes forward.
DeMaria, who said he is speaking on behalf of himself as a village resident, not as a representative of the historical society, has presented village officials with information about the history of the building.
It was designed by Frank Packard and built for Columbus Bolt Co. President William K. Lanman and his wife, Harriet, in 1908. The Tudor-style house has served as an office building for more than 50 years.
Packard was a nationally renowned architect who worked in Columbus from 1890 until his death in 1923. His designs include the porch of the Marion home of President Warren G. Harding.
"He was very well-connected and designed homes for many of the shakers and movers in the community," DeMaria said.
Fifteen Packard-designed homes were built in the Grandview and Marble Cliff area, including 12 in the village. Nine of the Marble Cliff homes still stand.
"It's a very unique situation for our community to have so many Packard homes," DeMaria said. "People have come from across the country to tour the homes. In 2014, a large contingent from the National Victorian Society came to our village specifically to view the Packard homes.
"The village has acted very responsibly in the past in terms of dealing with development proposals involving historic structures, like with the Tarpy House and St. Raphael's Home for the Aged (partially demolished to allow the development of the Prescott Place condominiums)," he said.
The historic significance of a property is one factor Village Council must consider when a demolition application is filed, according to the village's zoning code, DeMaria said.
Village code is specific about the process for handling a demolition application, Mayor Kent Studebaker said.
Council can approve a demolition permit if it finds at least two of three conditions exist, he said.
Those conditions are:
* The building is not historically, architecturally or culturally significant or otherwise worthy of preservation.
* There is no reasonable economic use for the building as it exists or if it were restored, and there is no feasible or prudent alternative to demolition.
* The building has deteriorated to a point where it is not economically feasible to restore it.
An application must include a statement and explanation of whether a building is historically, architecturally, culturally or otherwise worthy of preservation and include supporting information.
"The history of the building will certainly be one of the factors we'll be considering if a demolition permit is presented," Studebaker said. "We haven't received a request for demolition."
Before that would happen, the developers first must get an indication from Village Council that the concept plan they have presented is worth pursuing, he said.
"We're still in the concept-plan phase," Studebaker said. "It would be putting the cart before the horse to file a demolition permit at this point."
The architectural and historical significance of the building at 2015 W. Fifth Ave. "cannot be overstated," said Becky West, executive director of Columbus Landmarks, a local group that promotes and preserves Columbus landmarks and neighborhoods.
"It is our belief that the building can and should be saved," she said. "The Frank Packard-designed residences in Marble Cliff are character-defining and set the village apart from every other neighborhood in Columbus. We believe this property, included in the redevelopment of the site, could be a true gateway to this special neighborhood for generations to come."
The project likely would be eligible for historic-preservation tax credits, West said.
Options for reusing the building should be explored, she said.
The condition of the building should be considered along with its significance, DeMaria said.
"I'm not someone who's going to say a historic property must be preserved at all cost," he said. "The developer has stated the property is deteriorated, but we shouldn't just take their word for it."
The village should arrange for a independent third party, perhaps an engineer or architect, to study the house and determine if it has fallen into such disrepair that reusing it would not be feasible, DeMaria said.
"That is an option that we might consider," Studebaker said.
The concept plan is only the first stage in a process that could take at least six months to complete, he said.
Residents will be able to get more information about the project at an open house set from 5:30 to 7 p.m. today, Feb. 15, at the village's Administration Building, 1600 Fernwood Ave.
They will be able to offer their comments on the proposed project at council's next meeting, set for 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19. Council is expected to give developers an informal indication at that meeting of whether the project will be rejected outright or is worth pursuing further.