A place where tears once flowed soon could be filled with the laughter of children.
The Southwick-Good & Fortkamp Funeral Chapel, which closed in April 2017, would become a day care center under a proposal aired informally at the Aug. 2 meeting of the Clintonville Area Commission.
Real-estate developer Mark Smith -- accompanied by Sarah Fite and Rebecca Handley, the sisters who founded Balanced Family Academy; architect Carter Bean; and attorney Jackson B. Reynolds III -- gave a brief presentation on what the future might hold for the property at 3100 N. High St.
The former funeral home, which encompasses the historic Clinton Chapel, presents a "unique opportunity" for Balanced Family Academy to open a third location, Smith said.
After all, he said, the property already has been a gathering place for families for many years.
"I think we can provide a solution to maintain the building as is," Smith said.
Fite and Handley said their day care, designed for children ages six weeks through kindergarten, just celebrated a fourth anniversary. The main location of the business is at 5100 Reed Road.
Balanced Family Academy has 60 employees, which would increase by 35 if the funeral home becomes a third site, Handley said.
Bean said renovations, including the addition of eight classrooms and a kitchen in what's currently garage space, would not alter the exterior of the building. Adding a sprinkler system, he said, would alleviate the need for additional entrances and exits.
A fenced-in, outdoor playground space would be added on the lawn to the west of the structure, Bean said.
Reynolds said the only complicating factor in transforming the 1928 structure into a 21st-century day care center is that a small section of the overall site was rezoned from commercial to rural in 1974 at the behest of Friends of the Ravine. That obstacle, he said, could be overcome with a variance from Columbus City Council, which has not yet been sought.
"We just wanted to let you know that you may see this in the very near future," Reynolds told commission members.
"We appreciate you coming to talk with us and we look forward to seeing the official paperwork," said Libby Wetherholt, CAC chairwoman.
Also at their Aug. 2 meeting, commission members were asked to recommend approval of a rezoning that would permit a brewery and brewpub to open in a former poultry-processing operation at the intersection of Indianola Avenue and East Cooke Road.
Dwight McCabe, principal in his own commercial real-estate firm, represented Kindred Brewing in seeking a rezoning from commercial to manufacturing to permit beer production at 800 E. Cooke Road.
McCabe said most of the frontage of the building is on Indianola Avenue.
A former automotive building in front of the proposed brewery and pub would be torn down, McCabe said.
"Frankly, it's the ugliest, smelliest building on Indianola Avenue," he said.
"I'm glad that building's coming down," said Dana Bagwell, the CAC's District 5 representative.
McCabe also asked on behalf of Kindred Brewing to eliminate a 600-foot buffer from residential properties -- a holdover, he said, from long-ago days when breweries were foul-smelling operations. These days, McCabe said, all steam from the brewing beer is pulled back into the process.
CAC members voted 7-0 to recommend approval. District 1 representative David Vottero abstained because McCabe has been a client of his architectural firm, although not on this project.