A group of neighbors has organized in opposition to a proposed mixed-use development in Schumacher Place.
The residents said they don’t want added parking problems, noise, odor and late-night activity they believe would be associated with a proposed restaurant on the site of the vacant Buckeye Appliance & TV Center, 364 E. Whittier St.
Whittier ABC Co. LLC, which purchased the property in March 2018, wants to build 2,300 square feet of restaurant space, along with 1,300 square feet of patio space.
Bret Kline, who lives on Bruck Street near the project, said patrons of current food-and-beverage destinations in the area -- such as the Hey Hey Bar & Grill and Barcelona -- already gobble up what little on-street parking there is.
“There really is a parking deficit in the neighborhood,” Kline said.
Whittier ABC also wants to tear down part of the existing building on the site and create four apartments, one with a work-space attached on the ground level.
According to the plans, Whittier wants to change the land use from R-2F, a residential zoning classification, to a commercial use, something that would require a variance from Columbus City Council.
Documents show the site historically has been a commercial use. Most recently, it was a veterinarian’s office.
The company is seeking additional variances for parking, setback, landscaping and other requirements.
“Whittier Street is already a mixed-use street and the property itself is commercially developed in the R-2F district and all four concerns of this intersection are developed commercially,” said attorney David Hodge, representing Whittier ABC.
“And development of this property with commercial use, including restaurant, is appropriate, in terms of the historical development pattern in the greater neighborhood.”
Ron Halka, who lives on the alley behind the proposed development, said his bedroom window would overlook the restaurant’s patio and the space where the trash receptacle would be stored.
Halka said he can’t imagine the late-night noise and the smell.
“It’s like they haven’t considered the impact on the immediate neighborhood at all,” he said.
Hodge disagreed, saying the previous site plan had four additional units on top of a parking structure to the north side of the property.
“We have attempted to reduce the intensity of the property to work with the neighborhood,” Hodge said.
Anthony Celebrezze, assistant director of Columbus’ building and zoning services, said a variance request for the site has not been assigned to council.
The group has hired attorney Brandon Pauley to represent them.
“They’re trying to get their voice heard,” Pauley said.
“Sometimes when hiring an attorney, it amplifies your voice.”