Couple buys Downtown building to renovate, live in

By Marla Matzer Rose | 11 Jan, 2012

Couple buys Downtown building, plans to move into top 2 floors, rent ground level to business

A vacant building on a mostly revitalized block of Downtown’s Gay Street is getting another shot at renovation, after a plan last year fell through.

The 106-year-old building at 51-53 E. Gay St. was bought by Jim and Dianne Brennan, who plan to renovate the top two floors of the three-story building to live in, and revamp the ground floor’s retail space to lease out.

The sale price was $350,000, and Jim Brennan, creative director of the Columbus office of architecture and engineering firm URS Corp., estimates that he and his wife will spend at least another $350,000 to overhaul the building.

Brennan said he’s in discussions with a retailer specializing in vinyl records to occupy the ground floor starting early next year. He said he initially talked to two restaurateurs about the space, “but we decided not to put another restaurant there” on a block that features several popular eating spots.

Capital City Photo most recently occupied the street-level space. The DeMond family, which ran the store, also owned the building.

According to the Brennans’ application, scheduled to be heard by the Downtown Commission on Tuesday, they estimate the cost of redoing the facade alone at $40,000. The Brennans propose a new storefront with flanking glass double doors; new windows on the upper two floors; and cleaning of the ceramic brick and tile that covers the front of the building.

The couple and their children have been living for several years in a home that they renovated in Upper Arlington, Jim Brennan said. A native of England who attended graduate school at Ohio State University, Brennan said the family has been impressed with the growing amenities of Downtown and decided to take the plunge when this building became available.

“It’s really more a labor of love and a chance to be in a growing urban area than a moneymaking proposition,” Brennan said.