Columbus parking garage project hits a bump

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Columbus City Council wants to build this $14 million parking garage at Front and Rich streets, but nearby property owners Otto and Joyce Beatty argued at the Jan. 28 meeting that construction would harm business for their tenants. The project’s funding was put on hold for a week.

Columbus City Council temporarily put the brakes on a $14 million parking garage project at High and Rich Streets, after property owners Otto and Joyce Beatty complained that the construction would harm business for their tenants.

"We’re not trying to hold up the parking garage," Otto Beatty, a former member of the Ohio House of Representatives, told council.

But he and his wife, a state representative and the House Minority Leader, are concerned that customers will stay away during the 15-month construction period.

"We are going to lose tenants. This is a partial taking of our property, even if it is temporary," Mr. Beatty said. "If you are going to affect our property, you should buy it."

They have owned the buildings since 1980. The block includes an adult book store that they closed in 2000.

One of his tenants is a podiatrist’s office, with handicapped patients who could have difficulty getting through a construction zone, according to Beatty.

Other businesses are "in desperate need of pedestrian traffic," he said.

The construction of a new county courthouse down the block could further restrict traffic, the Beattys warned.

Other properties in the area have been purchased by the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation, Beatty noted.

The garage, which would replace the abandoned Lazarus garage at Front and Rich streets, is part of a $29 million effort to add 1,455 spaces to downtown, including a structure at Fourth Avenue and Gay Street.

 
 Messenger photo by John Matuszak

Seeing red to fight heart disease

Robin Coolidge, with the Cardinal Health Orchestra String Quartet, plays at Columbus City Hall Jan. 28 amid a sea of red apparel worn in support of the "Go Red for Women" campaign and American Heart Month in February, sponsored by the American Heart Association. Representatives of the organization received a proclamation from City Council recognizing the effort to raise awareness of the risk of heart disease as the leading cause of death for women. Heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill more women than the next six leading causes combined, including breast cancer. Council also designated Feb. 1 as Wear Red Day. During February, businesses including the LeVeque Tower and Mount Carmel Hospitals East and West will have red lighting.

Council was set to vote on the authorization for the expenditure, including a guaranteed maximum price contract for the $14 million Front Street garage.

Councilman Kevin Boyce, chairman of the finance committee, asked that the ordinances be tabled for a week to work out an agreement with the Beattys.

"Has there been a logical, reasonable attempt to reach an agreement?" Boyce asked Columbus Development Director Boyce Safford.

Safford defended the need for additional parking for shoppers and residents downtown.

"We’re trying to move downtown forward, and make it vibrant," Safford said, acknowledging that businesses can experience disruptions in the process.

Mrs. Beatty also complained of poor communication with city officials.

She only received a response after "a hysterical call" to the mayor’s office. Beatty said she was promised that Mayor Coleman would call her back personally, but that never happened.

Amy Taylor, with the Downtown Development Corporation, said that a meeting with the Beattys was held in December.

"We’re not trying to stop any development. There hasn’t been the type of communication that most cities would do," Mrs. Beatty said after the meeting.

"If this puts us in an environmentally unfriendly atmosphere, they should take the property literally. They’re taking it anyway," Mr. Beatty added.

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