A developer appears poised to tear down the Winking Lizard tavern and Bravo Cucina Italiana in Crosswoods to add residential rental units in the retail center.

Westerville-based Metro Development is seeking to build a 168-unit “extended-stay facility” called Hayden Reserve in Crosswoods, the north Columbus commercial district off U.S Route 23, just north of Interstate 270 and Worthington.

Hayden Reserve would be built on the sites occupied by Winking Lizard, 100 Hutchinson Ave., and Bravo, 7470 Vantage Drive, according to documents filed with the city of Columbus.

Metro Development already has begun work on Lincoln Pointe, another extended-stay facility at 40 Hutchinson Ave., the former site of the Columbus Fish Market, directly south of Bravo. The complex will have 49 residential units and a large workout facility.

However, despite their designation as extended-stay facilities, Hayden Reserve and Lincoln Pointe would in effect be apartment complexes, even though they would not technically fit that strict definition in the zoning code, said Anthony Celebrezze, spokesman for the Columbus Department of Development.

“If they wanted to do straight apartment, they would have to get a rezoning or amend the CPD (commercial-planned development, a zoning designation for the area),” he said.

Construction of hotels is limited to commercial zoning districts, Celebrezze said.

Apartments, on the other hand, generally are limited to districts zoned for residential, he said. However, in some cases, apartment buildings are allowed in commercial districts as long as they include retail uses on the first floor, Celebrezze said. Such examples are prevalent in Columbus’ Short North and other areas with urban-infill opportunities, he said.

Extended-stay facilities that operate like apartments are under much tighter design and building restrictions than typical extended-stays, Celebrezze said.

“We require extended-stay hotels to comply with zoning codes that apartment buildings adhere to,” he said.

Celebrezze said the Hayden Reserve development is under review by city agencies. For example, he said, Metro Development has asked for a Columbus Board of Zoning Adjustment variance for a parking setback at the Winking Lizard property. Meanwhile, John Lane, the Winking Lizard co-owner and vice president of operations, said the Crosswoods tavern would close in February, just shy of its 15th anniversary at the spot.

Crosswoods was the first of four central Ohio locations for Winking Lizard Tavern Inc., a Cleveland-based regional chain known for its selection of imported beer and microbrews, when it opened in 2003.

However, Winking Lizard will maintain its four locations in central Ohio: The company plans to open a tavern at 7995 E. Broad St. in Reynoldsburg in early 2018, Lane said.

Bravo Development Inc., the parent company of the central-Ohio based chain of Italian restaurants, owns the Vantage Drive property, according to the Franklin County Auditor’s Office.

No one from Bravo Development Inc. or Metro Development returned calls seeking comment.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

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