COhatch proposal heading to City Council


COhatch’s plans to construct a building in downtown Powell are progressing after the Powell Planning and Zoning Commission approved a final development plan for the proposal during its meeting on Wednesday.

Proposed is a three-story, 13,900-square-foot building on the 0.64-acre site at 50 E. Olentangy St., just east of Powell’s four corners. The commission approved a sketch plan and certificate of appropriateness for the building last November at which time the demolition of the existing two-story, vacant office building was also approved. The building was demolished on Wednesday.

COhatch, which offers communal working space and private offices, has eight locations spread throughout central Ohio, including in Delaware, Polaris, Dublin Westerville, Worthington, and multiple buildings in Columbus. In addition to the Powell proposal, a building is also in the works in Bexley.

The three-story building proposed in Powell would include shared offices, meeting rooms, and event space on the first and second floors and a rooftop bar on the third floor. The bar would be set back from the street to create a rooftop patio with views to the south and west.

A parking lot is proposed to the rear of the building with access coming from Olentangy Street. On-street parking spaces are also proposed in front of the building.

In addition to the building, COhatch CEO and Powell resident Matt Davis envisions a redesign of the northeast portion of downtown Powell that would include the extension of Scioto Street east to Grace Drive and additional parking ahead of the creation of an event area around Bartholomew Run. Last month, Powell City Council approved an ordinance authorizing City Manager Andrew White to enter into an agreement for COhatch to lead the conceptual design and engineering of phase one.

Wednesday’s meeting featured a public hearing, and some residents took the opportunity to speak out against the proposal and its fit in Powell’s historic downtown district. Tom Coffey, the chairman of Powell’s Historic District Advisory Committee (HDAC), stated that while he’s not opposed to the general idea of the COhatch coming to Powell, he would like to see HDAC involved in the plans to create something more in line with the historic guidelines.

Garry Swackhamer, a Powell resident and former city councilman, Planning and Zoning commissioner, and member of HDAC, shared a similar sentiment, saying, “I’m very puzzled that all of the sudden we’d want to scrap what we worked so hard on to create continuity for downtown Powell. If that building was built more towards Sawmill (Parkway), I would be delighted. But it’s just going to be a dominant feature in downtown Powell. It’s not going to blend with the other businesses that are currently here … I just would like to see, at this point in time, that this be sent back to redo it to more adhere closely to the historic guidelines.”

Responding to the comments of the public, Davis took offense to the perception that the COhatch proposal was developed without any consideration for the fabric of downtown Powell.

“This notion that Matt Davis didn’t look at the guidelines and randomly built something without city and expert opinion for four straight months is fairly insulting and absurd,” Davis said. “Two, the point is to have listened for five straight months on what city management, their Move Powell Forward plan, the Capital Improvement Plan, and everyone on this group says. The reality is you just don’t like what they’ve had to say, and that’s something you should take up with them. The reality is this plan is trying to move Powell forward between 2024 and the next 100 years. That’s exactly what we proposed and what we listened to from the team.”

Following the public hearing, Commissioner David Lester noted the building that did exist on the site was not historic and didn’t fall under the HDAC guidelines, rendering public comments about adhering to HDAC guidelines irrelevant.

“I think this (plan) is bringing that site into Powell more than others seem to think,” said Commissioner Shaun Simpson. “I think to bring it front toward the road is appealing and gives us some continuity down that strip, which I work on so I see that strip quite a bit. The height, at least on the initial portion of the building, is not too dissimilar to the building I’m in … From a size standpoint, I think that it fits really well.”

Simpson also noted he likes the timber elements of the proposal as well as that the third floor sits back from the street while still attracting people to downtown Powell.

The final development plan was unanimously approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission and will now go before Powell City Council for final approval.

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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