South Columbus neighbors unite against Giant Eagle-site redevelopment project

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
Pizzuti Cos. wants to redevelop the Giant Eagle property on East Whittier Street near German Village.

Three south Columbus neighborhoods are uniting against redevelopment plans for the former Giant Eagle store site at 280 E. Whittier St. near German Village.

Residents of German Village, Merion Village and Schumacher Place have formed an alliance against the Pizzuti Cos.' plans for a mixed-use development on the site of the former grocery store.

They have pledged to make their voices clear throughout the legislative process.

Attempts to reach Pizzuti Cos. for a comment for this story were unsuccessful.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, the Columbus South Side Area Commission is scheduled to take up the matter.

Columbus City Council will make the ultimate decision on the planned redevelopment.

Brenda Gischel, president of the Schumacher Place Civic Association, said on Oct. 6, 405 residents voted on the project and 390 said no, while 15 approved.

Residents do not need to be paid members of the association, but they do need to be a resident or homeowner.

“Because of the caliber of the project, it drew a lot of interest,” she said.

The project calls for 279 apartment units and 9,462 square feet of commercial space on 2.34 acres, Gischel said.

“Our goal is that we get something more in terms of density of scale and height that is compatible in terms of what’s existing there,” she said.

It’s an age-old issue in the neighborhood: The narrow brick streets don’t provide enough on-street parking and allow for general flow of traffic, particularly when high-density facilities are built in the area, Gischel said.

“It doesn’t work,” she said. “I would challenge anyone to drive on our brick streets right now.”

Chris Hune, president of the German Village Society board of trustees, said “the concerns Schumacher has are the concerns that we have.”

“The location of this project really circulates amongst three different neighborhoods – Schumacher Place, German Village and Merion Village – so that’s why we’re coming together with a common voice with concerns about size,” Hune said. “There are parking and traffic issues. it still has height issues.”

Pizzuti bought the property for $5.35 million in October 2017, according to the Franklin County Auditor’s Office website. Giant Eagle acquired the store in December 2003 as part of a bankruptcy auction held by Penn Traffic, which owned the Big Bear grocery chain.

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