Campus Partners bought Long’s Bookstore in 2000, nearly a century after it first opened. Since that point, the community-planning corporation has bought other properties while working on a long-term master plan of the area.
Details of that master plan were unveiled Friday, and would involve a redevelopment of more than 9 acres around 15th Avenue and High Street.
Campus Partners, along with local property owners, aims to tear down the building that currently houses Brenen’s Cafe, Jimmy John’s and The O Patio & Pub, replacing them with a public square.
Campus Partners President Amanda Hoffsis said she envisions a “really beautiful public square that you would find anywhere in Europe.”
Her company doesn’t own that property, but Hoffsis said they are “currently working on” it for the future.
The plan also aims to construct a parking garage to service the entire area and flank the public square with shops and a “signature building,” currently planned to be a hotel.
Campus Partners wants that hotel to become a “district icon” by providing a “terminating vista on axis with the campus spine that connects 15th Avenue and High Street to the William Oxley Thompson Library,” according to the plan.
Ben Brown, a third-year in East Asian studies, said he isn’t a fan of that idea.
“There’s enough hotels around here, I don’t think they need to put another hotel right there,” he said.
Before any of these major changes can happen, though, Campus Partners will need to get the city to rezone the area. Currently, the properties are split between commercial and residential zones, and need to be rezoned as a “commercial planned district,” Hoffsis said Friday.
That rezoning would allow for more freedom in planning, including the parking garage and a mixed use of buildings for retail, residential and office locations.
All property owners within the area outlined for rezoning have signed onto the plan. Hoffsis said the rezoning process, expected to last through the end of the summer, will reveal what actions Campus Partners is allowed to take.
The community will have an opportunity to be involved in the public rezoning process, according to a press release, which added that “plans envision a high-quality pedestrian environment.”
Toos Spirits Under High, a bar located in the area, said in a Friday tweet that it would be closing.
“We had a great run…Couldn’t have done it without you guys,” the bar tweeted from its account, @ToosUnderHigh.
It sent out a tweet later that evening, though, that said, “Don’t worry we’re not going out without a fight! #savetoos.”
Social media responded after the Friday announcements, with some students lamenting the closure of businesses and some using the hashtag #savetoos.
Halle Flate, a first-year in biology, expressed concern that the changes will negatively affect the student experience.
“As I get older, I’d rather have the places that have been here because it’s tradition. As a freshman, I would like to experience that as well, and I don’t want to have construction there during my four years here,” she said.
If rezoning is approved, developments would begin independently of Campus Partners when property owners secure financing to contract construction. Because Campus Partners will not be the developer, there is no timeline for rollout of the different projects.
Campus Partners, formed in 1995, is a private community planning corporation that works to revitalize OSU’s off-campus neighborhoods.
The announcement comes about a week after the university also put out a request for proposals on a project to revamp the OSU arts district opposite that intersection.
That project aims to create a plaza near the Wexner Center for the Arts and move the theater department, which is currently housed in the Drake Performance and Event Center, closer to High Street, and also includes plans for renovations to Weigel Hall, Mershon Auditorium and the Wexner Center.
While Hoffsis said she believes the two plans will complement one another, and described the timing as a “happy coincidence,” she said both plans have moved forward independently of one another.
Campus Partners’ other major work has been the South Campus Gateway, which opened in 2005. In recent years, the Gateway has struggled with stability as a rolodex of businesses have come and gone.
Robert Scarpinito contributed to this article.