The apartment complex rising on the former Mercy Academy site at 1172 East Broadway is beginning to look like a real building. On a recent visit, crews were busy framing the four-story, wooden structure, particularly its sloped roofline. Take a look at the construction photos below.
As a refresher, what we were calling the Mercy Apartments has been officially named Highland Station, according to a spokesperson from Columbus, Ohio–based developer Edwards Companies quoted in Business First. The budget is $26.5 million. The 194-unit structure utilizes an existing parking garage next door and forms a distinct urban edge along East Broadway where the former Mercy Academy buildings were set back from the street. The change in urban character is palpable walking along the sidewalk here.
The project was announced and unveiled in summer 2015, the Mercy Apartments took some time to really get going. Zoning and variances/waivers were approved in October that year. The site, including the old Mercy convent building, was cleared by early spring 2016.
Last April, after the developer cast uncertainty about the future of the project, an agreement was reached with the city for $2.6 million in subsidies, in the form of a tax-increment financing district, in exchange for providing 19 affordable units at the site, about ten percent of the total. According to Marty Finley at Business First, the first units could be occupied by the end of the year.
In front of the parking garage, a small former office building at 1170 East Broadway will be converted to mini-storage to be called Tri-City Storage. Metro Council approved rezoning the 24,100-square-foot, 0.2-acre site from OR-3 (Office/Residential) to C-2 status at the end of February. The developer, Brexton, also sought a Conditional Use Permit for the use under the C-2 designation.
As part of the project, an enclosed stairwell will be built on the west side of the existing building to provide access to each floor and four parking spaces will be paved, requiring the removal of two trees. Additional landscape screening in the area is also planned. The existing structure will maintain its heavy-handed appearance, which strangely has always looked more appropriate for mini-storage than office anyway. Repairs to the facade are planned, such as fixing a peeling concrete projecting mass on the top floor.
Given that Edwards Companies is developing nearly 500 new apartments in the area—at the Mercy site and a block east at the former Phoenix Hill Tavern site—it seems logical that demand for storage space might increase. Still, we wish the ground floor could have been opened up for a cafe or coffee shop rather than a blank wall.