A Columbus developer is proposing a six-story apartment and restaurant development at East Long Street and Hamilton Avenue that would serve as an entrance to the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville neighborhood.
The Kelley Companies is partnering with the Diehl family in the development, proposed for the site of the Diehl-Whittaker Funeral Service, 720 E. Long St.
The proposal, recently submitted to the Near East Area Commission, calls for a six-story building on the northwest corner of Long and Hamilton that would include a restaurant, lobby and parking on the ground floor topped by 90 apartments above.
A 1,600-square-foot lower level would potentially house a jazz speakeasy, a nod to the Near East Side neighborhood’s roots as the city’s Black arts district and stopover for visiting greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Lionel Hampton and Sammy Davis Jr.
“It seems appropriate, with the history of the Bronzeville neighborhood,” said Michael Kelley, a partner in the Kelly Companies.
Under the plan, two adjacent lots, immediately north on Hamilton Avenue, and on the northeast corner of Hamilton and Long, would be used for surface parking.
In a news release, members of the Diehl family said “the development is part of a long-time vision of the late Richard J. Diehl, former president and CEO of Diehl-Whittaker Funeral Service, “who lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years until his death in January of this year.
“Our father envisioned this real estate development, not only to be a gateway to the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville District, but one that would bring about added value to the neighborhood, which he called his own for a great deal of his life,” Diehl’s daughter, Ingrid M. Diehl Ragland, said in the news release.
“Though he was unable to see it come into fruition, as his wife and children we are committed to honoring his legacy and proud to do our part in seeing his dream through to reality.”
With its ornamental touches, including a giant clock, the proposed building’s design, by David Meleca at the Columbus architecture firm Moody Nolan, harkens to the neighborhood’s heyday. Karrick Sherrill of Columbus Design Company is also an architect on the project.
“The art deco-inspired design of the building evokes the Jazz Age of the 1920s, making the structure an exciting and unique entry into the neighborhood,” said Kelley.
“It’s a huge opportunity, this location. It’s the gateway into Bronzeville, as you come from Downtown,” Kelley said. “It’s right at that main intersection, close to the Lincoln Theatre, … with amazing views of Downtown.”
The development would the latest in a string of projects in the King-Lincoln-Lincoln-ville neighborhood, including others should be done by the Kelley Companies.
Nearby, the Kelley Companies renovated the 110-year-old Hotel St. Clair into apartments a few years ago. The company has also started construction of the 82-unit apartment complex at Hamilton and Mount Vernon avenues in partnership with Shiloh Baptist Church.
Two blocks east of the proposed Long Street project, Columbus developer Borror and Kingsley & Co. of Cincinnati built The Adelphi Quarter, a two-block-long development that includes 130 apartments and 9,000 square feet of commercial space, some of which will be occupied by a bank.
Across from that, the development firm Metropolitan Holdings has proposed an 84-unit apartment building called The Ogden at 805 E. Long St.
In addition, Franklin County’s land bank — known as the Central Ohio Community Improvement Corporation — has announced plans to restore and move into The Edna, a historic, three-story building located at 877-879 E. Long St. The 8,694-square-foot building, built in 1905, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a landmark in the heart of the Black community there as the former site of a Black-owned insurance company and The Ohio Sentinel, a weekly Black journal.
Development in the area has also led to a boom in real-estate prices and house flipping.
Kelley said he expects the apartment-restaurant development project to take several months to make its way through the approval process, but hopes to break ground early next year.