Revised plan for Little Bar, University Baptist Church lot passes zoning committee vote

The Lantern
North Campus Bar, Little Bar’s fate still remains uncertain. Credit: Zachary Rilley | Photo Editor

The fate of The Little Bar and University Baptist Church lots is still undecided, following a vote by the University Area Commission Zoning Committee Monday night.

The plan for the lots, proposed by a Texas-based student housing development company, American Campus Communities, passed a 5-2 vote by the committee and will now be put to vote by the entire commission. The vote comes after the previous plan, which raised concerns with parking and the building height on the corner of Norwich Avenue and North High Street, failed to pass a vote by the full commission Jan. 18.

The previous plan passed in the zoning committee earlier this year. The American Campus Communities has been working with UAC for months to build student housing on the two spots, replacing the bar and including a new space for the church in the development.

The updated proposal will now go before the full commission again at a date to be determined before potentially being recommended to the Columbus City Council.

Mitchell Acock, an architect for the project said he thinks this new plan addressed the concerns with height and parking by altering the number of parking spots and removing a floor from the building facing North High Street.

The previous plan included 10 floors for housing, three for 255 parking spaces, a space for retailers and a new area for the University Baptist Church. The buildings were proposed to be six and eight stories.

To accommodate these changes, the Lane Avenue height was proposed to be raised to 100 feet and would house the parking garage for the development.

Zaida Jenkins, a member of the zoning committee and a fourth-year in public management, leadership and policy, was one of the five to vote yes for the current proposal. She said the concerns for parking from the last vote were adequately addressed in the new plan.

While Jenkins said she had personal concerns with affordability of the housing, she did not have an issue with the variances the commissioners were voting on concerning the height of the building.

“I didn’t have an issue with the last height issue, it was really just the parking,” Jenkins said. “To see that completely cleared today, I can’t justify any other reason not to accept their variances.”

Sam Newman, vice president of development for ACC, declined to comment on the prices and affordability of the proposed units but offered a statement on behalf of the group.

“At ACC, we are focused on building high-quality student housing that can help alleviate supply and demand imbalances and appreciate the ongoing dialogue around this potential development,” the ACC stated.

ACC doesn’t currently have apartments on Ohio State’s campus, but the organization has built apartments for two other Ohio universities. At Kent State University apartment prices range from $799-1,099 per person and at the University of Toledo prices range from $559-999 per person.

Newman and Acock said considering the changes to the project, they do not have an exact breakdown of units for the new plan yet.

Doreen Uhas-Sauer, another member of the zoning committee, was one of the two who voted against the proposal. She said she was pleased with the changes in parking but is still concerned about the height of the building on the corner of North High Street and Norwich Avenue.

“It struck me as interesting that the applicant said he felt the plan had gotten better,” Uhas-Sauer said.

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