Four years ago, Gene Rodriguez came forward with a proposal to bring a bed and breakfast to downtown Powell. The proposed development, dubbed the “Day Dream Inn,” would convert Rodriguez’s home, which was built in 1908 and sits at the northwest corner of the East Olentangy Street and Grace Drive intersection, into a 10-suite bed and breakfast.
A final development plan for the Day Dream Inn was approved in January of 2015, but since then, Rodriguez has been unable to secure investors to move forward with the project. Because of that, he has been in front of the Powell Planning and Zoning Commission multiple times to request an extension on the approved final development plan, refusing to give up on his vision while he searches for investors.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Rodriguez highlighted the health difficulties, which includes a torn meniscus, back fractures and the loss of an eye, he has endured over the past few years and requested another one-year extension while he continues to search for investors.
Rodriguez said the health issues have heavily impacted his effectiveness as a salesman for the project, but he has received “very sincere and qualified interest in the project.” He pointed out Powell still has a lack of hospitality and told the commission if they still wanted the facility, he’s still willing to put it together.
Director of Development Dave Betz said the traffic light installed at Grace Drive since the original plan was approved would present issues for access to the bed and breakfast. Particularly, Betz said, traffic moving southbound that is backed up at the light would make entry nearly impossible at times.
“That’s why we have these expiration dates, because things change,” Betz said. “Things change from the standpoint of our physical improvements to the road and intersection, possibilities of new development to the north and east (of the site) that may make something like (The Day Dream Inn) incompatible.”
He added city staff is hesitant for another one-year extension but suggested a six-month extension would be acceptable to give Rodriguez one more chance to make something happen. Betz said Rodriguez has indicated he has an investor currently looking at the project.
Commission Chairman Donald Emerick said he came into the meeting thinking there was no way he would vote for a third extension for the project without any sign of progress having been made, but would agree to the six-month extension if there is currently someone potentially interested in investing.
Following Emerick’s comments, Rodriguez introduced Steve Lenker, who owns The Briton Group, a Dublin-based development team with real estate specialty. Lenker said his team has been looking at The Day Dream Inn project for the past three weeks and “believe it has a lot of merits.”
“I think it is a tremendous piece of property, regardless of whether it ends up being this use or another use,” he said, pointing out the current proposed use would be the best because there is nothing else like it in the area.
Lenker said his team is going through the economic feasibility phase currently and said a six-month extension is more than enough time to complete their analysis and make a decision on whether or not to move forward.
Commissioner Joe Jester expressed empathy for what Rodriguez has been through and said he wanted to “handle it the right way.” However, he said that if a third extension were granted, that has to be the final time.
Jester’s comments represented the common feeling among the commissioners, expressing a reluctance to grant another extension but wanting to help out Rodriguez.
Commission members voted unanimously, although apprehensively, to grant a six-month extension rather than a year.
Rodriguez will now have until July 15 to get the building and engineering plans reapproved in order to keep approval of the final development plan and be able to move forward with the project.