The longer the piece of heavy equipment sat in the parking lot at the northeast corner of North Broadway and North High Street, the more speculation grew among Clintonville residents.

What was next for the intersection at the very heart of the neighborhood? Something truly special for a truly special location?

Nope.

It's going to be a Verizon store, said Anthony J. Celebrezze III, assistant director of the Columbus Department of Building and Zoning Services. Paperwork filed with two building permits for the site by Metropolitan Partners on behalf of East North Broadway Partners, which owns the parcel, shows that the cellphone company will be the tenant, he said.

The new business will occupy the same footprint that was once home to a Pizza Hut, followed by a Starbucks and a cash-for-gold outlet.

Some in the neighborhood have expressed disappointment that an opportunity to redevelop at least one of the prime intersection's corners will be for something relatively pedestrian.

"Certainly over the years I have made some pretty sweeping statements about that corner," said Mary Rodgers, president of the Clintonville Historical Society and a resident of East North Broadway. "It should be a hub; it should be a welcome-to-the-neighborhood kind of spot. Instead, it's just a big parking lot.

"That's pretty disappointing."

"I think the problem isn't really with the fact that it's a Verizon store," said Judy Minister, a real-estate agent and the Clintonville Area Commission's District 4 representative. "I think the thing we're most unhappy about (is that) within the last decade, CAC adopted urban commercial overlay, parking in the back and buildings at the street.

"They certainly could have put a cute Verizon store there with parking looping around the back."

Actually, that's not the case, at least not without creating major difficulties for whatever tenant moved onto the property, Celebrezze said.

"One of the challenges that intersection poses is if they were to tear down the building completely, it would trigger the urban commercial overlay, which would require that the building be pulled up closer to High Street," he said.

That would eliminate access to the site from North High Street -- and city officials probably wouldn't allow access from East North Broadway, Celebrezze added.

That means the only way for vehicles to get to that lot would be through an alley that runs behind it, he said.

Usually, the urban commercial overlay has "tremendous potential" for helping with redevelopment, Celebrezze said.

"In this case, it actually poses some limitations on that property," he said.

"You'd like to think that it's going to be decent-looking, but I don't know that we need another cellphone store," Rodgers said.

In the 1920s, the historical society president said, the future site of the Verizon store was a popular grocery. What's now Kroger on the northwest corner of the intersection was a car dealership, she said.

Minister expressed disappointment at what visitors and residents alike observe when they pass through a location so central to Clintonville, including the shell of the old Clintonville Electric building and the vacant lot that once was home to the Clinton Theater.

"I think it's an eyesore and it's probably the least-attractive intersection in Clintonville," Minister said.

"Everything else is turning over and improving, and yet for 15 years we've kind of stuck with a mess on that corner.

"We all keep hoping something good will happen at that corner."

For its part, operator Cellular Sales is "excited" to bring a new store to Clintonville, according to its press release.

"This store in Clintonville will give us a way to reach customers that are on the northern side of town," said Regional Director RC Scheinler.

The store is set to open Feb. 14.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1