Fitness boutique, apartment approved for downtown area


The northwest corner of William and Franklin streets will soon be getting a makeover. On Monday, Delaware City Council approved the final development plan for a multipurpose building to be constructed on the site.

Owners Jeff and Jill Rice, Delaware residents who closed on the property last May, will construct a two-story building at the location. The first floor of the building is expected to be for commercial use, with a fitness boutique owned by Jill Rice the planned use. The upstairs apartment is planned to be a two-bedroom, two-bathroom upscale apartment with a private elevator and garage.

In total, the new building is expected to span approximately 4,000 square feet.

The existing building was constructed in 1926 and served as a Sohio gas station. Most recently, it housed Mid Ohio Printing Company until 2013 and has remained vacant since. Before the gas station was built, the site was once home to William Street United Methodist Church.

In 2013, the property was purchased by Pulp Smoothie and Juice Bar with the intent to bring a new location to Delaware. Financial difficulties forced the new owners to put the property back up for sale, however, and the Rices purchased the building in November 2017.

During Monday’s meeting, Jeff Rice said their original plan was to renovate the existing building, but after speaking with architects, the couple found the building was beyond renovation.

The Delaware Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) approved a certificate of appropriateness for the demolition of the existing building last month. The design of the new building has been discussed over three meetings with HPC dating back to 2017.

Planning Commission approved the final development plan unanimously during its last meeting, and the vote from council was unanimous on Monday.

The Rices have said the decision to include the upstairs apartment stemmed from the existing building not being salvageable, which forced them to construct a brand new building. Their plan is to use the additional income from the rental to cover the additional costs associated with construction.

Jill Rice, who has a master’s degree in exercise physiology from Kent State University, said the downstairs fitness boutique will feature two studios, with one dedicated to one-on-one fitness training and one for small group training.

City Manager Tom Homan commended the Rices for their patience throughout the process, saying, “I know this has been a long road for you, and I congratulate you on an outstanding reuse for a piece of property that has long been an eyesore. I think this will be a nice fit for our community.”

By Dillon Davis

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Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @cddavis_gazette.

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