The initial reaction to a revised redevelopment plan for the property at 2015 W. Fifth Ave. in Marble Cliff has been favorable, in contrast to the poor response to a plan earlier this year that would have razed the 110-year-old mansion at the site.
Ted Foster of F2 Cos. presented the new plan at the July 16 Marble Cliff Village Council meeting.
The plan offers a 40 percent reduction in residential units from Foster's original concept plan and saves the mansion, designed by noted architect Frank Packard.
"We've made some substantial changes to the plan" to address previous concerns raised by council members and residents, Foster said.
"We're much happier with this than with what we had before," he said. "This has been a nine- or 10-month process. Sometimes, when (the process is hard), you get to a better plan."
In the revised residential development plan, four to six apartments would be housed in the mansion, Foster said.
The residence has been used as an office building for decades. It had been targeted for demolition in the original plan.
Thirty-four other residences would be built on the site, including nine townhomes at the front of the site facing Fifth Avenue.
The townhomes would be built 2 1/2 stories above ground, Foster said.
Each townhome would feature an underground two-car garage.
The other units would be apartments in a new building constructed behind the mansion.
The revised plan calls for 71 parking spaces, including 47 combined garage spaces for the townhomes and new apartment building as well as 24 surface spaces located at the existing house, facing Arlington Avenue, Foster said.
The configuration for the project has been revised to address concerns regarding traffic entering and exiting from Arlington Avenue and the size and scope of the development, he said.
"We've listened to what council and residents had to say," Foster said. "We think this is a project that is a better fit with the character of the village."
The project will have no more than 40 residential units -- a 40 percent decrease from the original proposal of 67 units, Foster said.
Earlier this year, Foster proposed a 3-story, 67-unit apartment building for the site and suggested that saving and renovating the mansion would not be feasible.
The revised plan "is tight financially, but I think we can do it," he said.
It took a while for his team to fully realize the importance and significance of the Packard-designed building, Foster said.
"Sometimes, you have to be hit in the head a couple times before you wake up to a fact," he said.
After the informal presentation, council members' initial reaction was positive, and they indicated Foster should proceed with developing a more detailed and formal proposal.
Foster and his associates should be commended for their perseverance, council President Matt Cincione said.
Judging from his first look at it, the revised plan addresses "a lot of what we were trying to convey" when council rejected the original proposal, he said.
"In general, I like it," Cincione said. "The message from me is, 'keep going.' "
"I like that you're keeping the mansion," Councilwoman Kendy Troiano said. "What you've got here fits in better with the village."
The previous plan proposed for the site drew the attention of Columbus Landmarks, which featured the building at 2015 W. Fifth Ave. on its 2018 Most Endangered Buildings List.
"Frank Packard is probably the most notable architect from Ohio," Columbus Landmarks executive director Becky West said. "We believe the residence is very significant architecturally and historically and should be saved and reused.
"There are still a lot of details to work out, but we're very optimistic and pleased that the plan has been revised to maintain the home," West said.
The Packard-designed homes in Marble Cliff and Grandview help define the character of the communities and set them apart from other central Ohio neighborhoods, she said.
Foster is expected to be back with more details about the proposed project at Village Council's next meeting, set Aug. 20.