The changing face of downtown Canal Winchester

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Rick Palsgrove
A worker cleans the exterior walls of the new building being built on West Waterloo Street in downtown Canal Winchester.

Where once sat an icon of the motoring public and a home where birthdays and holidays were celebrated, now sits a multi-story structure where people will again live and do business in downtown Canal Winchester.

Rising from the site of the former Marathon gas station is a three-story building with restaurant and retail space on the first floor and 14 one- and two- bedroom apartments on the upper two levels.

Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire said the project at 16-26 W. Waterloo St. is nearing completion and residential tenants could start moving in around the first of August.

“The project includes 7,500 square feet of ground floor retail/restaurant space that is for lease,” said Haire. “There are no committed tenants for this space at this time. This project furthers the goals that were set in the Old Town Plan which was adopted in 2017.”

According to Haire, the new downtown building—with apartments ranging from 700 square feet to 1,196 square feet—fits into the plan by promoting commercial growth in creating new spaces for businesses in the Old Town area.

It also diversifies housing options by adding new living options that do not exist in Canal Winchester and increases the livability and walkability by enhancing the streetscape along Waterloo Street and adding new businesses that complement the neighborhood.
Throughout the development process, residents voiced concern about the building’s impact on public parking, but Haire said the project will have 36 parking spaces on site.
“The project will have 36 parking spaces on the site,” Haire said. “This is actually an increase over the number of spaces that were on the site prior to development. There are no requirements for commercial businesses to have parking in the Old Town area. There are both on-street and public parking lots in close proximity to accommodate those customers who cannot be accommodated in the private parking on this lot.”

In Nov. 2008, after a decades-long struggle, the gas station—built in 1975—was demolished. The crumbling structure was removed, and village crews smoothed out the surface. Underground storage tanks were left in place because funding was not available at the time to remove them. They were later taken out by the county in late 2013.

In 2007, the then Franklin County treasurer said that, although the county worked with the prosecutor to get the distressed property sold at a sheriff’s sale, there were no bidders. Franklin County then assumed ownership from the original owner and turned it over to the Central Ohio Community Improvement Corporation.

The city acquired the lot from the COCIC and purchased the adjacent parcel at 26 W. Waterloo St. in late 2017.

“The home was contaminated with asbestos, which was remediated and then demolished by the COCIC as the Franklin County Land Bank. The city then transferred the lot to the Canal Winchester Industry and Commerce Corporation who owns the property and leases it to the developer,” said Haire. “The city looks forward to assisting the developer in attracting businesses that are the right fit for our community and enhance the residents and visitors experience in our downtown area. This development will lead to further interest in developing and redeveloping property along West Waterloo Street which was identified as a priority for redevelopment in the Old Town plan.”

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