The Grandview Heights Planning Commission last week unanimously rejected an application to demolish the building known as the Salzgaber farmhouse at 1192 Grandview Ave.

The Grandview Heights Planning Commission last week unanimously rejected an application to demolish the building known as the Salzgaber farmhouse at 1192 Grandview Ave.

"It's back to the drawing board," said Ed Hastie, who had submitted the application for the demolition permit with Kyle Kegg.

Hastie, a Grandview city councilman, owns the property, and he and Kegg operate their businesses -- a law firm and a real estate and investment company, respectively -- in the building. A photography studio was housed in the building before Hastie bought it.

The structure sits at the northeast corner of Grandview and First avenues.

Kegg's proposal was to purchase the property, raze the building and construct six condominium units in its place.

Hastie was to have no role in the redevelopment after selling the property to Kegg.

Hastie said in an interview that it's likely another proposal will be brought to the planning commission, but whether Kegg or another prospective buyer will be involved is unknown.

It is unlikely that he would be involved in any project that would be presented to the commission except as the seller of the property, Hastie said.

One possibility is a new proposal that would be similar to the development adjacent to his building, he said.

That development, which features retail use on the ground floor and residential units on the upper floors, is more in line with what is specifically called for in the Grandview Avenue Overlay District, Hastie said.

It also is possible that a future proposal would seek a demolition permit, he said.

Hastie said he thinks it is possible a different type of project might bring a more-favorable result in a demolition application.

Kegg's plans for the property involved six condominium units with attached two-car garages within two three-story buildings. The project would have included three 2,500-square-foot units and three 2,700-square-foot units.

Architect Laurie Gunzelman told the commission the project would serve as "a very natural transition from the residential district to the commercial district" along Grandview Avenue.

More than half of both the interior and exterior of the building has been altered, and the building has been used as commercial or office space for decades, Gunzelman said.

The interior of the building has no kitchen and only a half-bathroom, and the molding and flooring are not original, she said. Neither are the building's siding, roofing and parking original, she added.

The costs to redevelop the property as a commercial office space or residence or to move the building to a new location would be at least $567,000, and the cost to restore the building as a residence is estimated at $659,000, Gunzelman said.

The city's design guidelines call for the commission to consider the significance of the existing building, the feasibility of alternate uses and/or renovations, and the overall appropriateness and quality of the proposed replacement structure in deciding whether to grant a demolition permit, Hastie said at the commission's March 18 meeting.

Given that the building has been significantly altered and has been zoned for commercial use for more than 30 years, its designation as a historical landmark is "mythical," he said.

The development that Kegg proposed "is a really nice project," Hastie said, and one that is appropriate for the site.

Several residents, including members of the Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Historical Society, spoke against the demolition plan.

The historical society was asked by the city to designate properties that are historic in nature, and the Salzgaber home was identified as being a local landmark, society President Tracy Liberatore said.

"I understand the home has changed," she said. "That doesn't mean it isn't a historic place."

Kathy Lithgow, a Parkway Drive resident, said the condominium project would amount to "putting a square peg in a round hole.

"It's an urban building project that does not fit in a suburban setting," she said.

Teri Alexander said she is one of a group of concerned residents who have formed the Grandview Heights Preservation and Conservation Group to voice their concern about recent applications to demolish buildings in Grandview and to maintain the character of the city.

The group has retained the services of Franklin Conaway, a preservation attorney from Chillicothe. Alexander submitted a letter from Conaway stating his findings that the building is a historic structure that needs to be preserved.

Granting the demolition permit would set a precedent that could allow other property owners to sell their holdings for other, more-expansive projects that could "destroy the fabric of our community," said Gus Rotolo, a Merrick Road resident.

The report from the city's administrative staff recommended against approving the demolition permit.

The report indicated the applicants have not sufficiently demonstrated there would be a substantial economic burden if the demolition were not approved, and there is no evidence the building is "structurally unsound and not habitable."

Before the vote on whether to grant the demolition, planning commission member Frances Rourke said the applicants had not made a sufficient effort to prove a financial hardship if the request were denied.

Commission member Tom Komlanc said he was hesitant to allow the demolition because he questioned whether all other options for the property had been "exhausted."

Commission Chairman Robert Wandel noted that when Kegg brought his proposal to the commission for an informal discussion in December, he and other members wondered why he wouldn't consider a project that would include retail or commercial use on the ground floor, which would be preferable under the overlay district guidelines.