Westerville’s historical Armory property is on its way to redevelopment with COhatch, a company that develops innovative shared work and social spaces, and North High Brewing at 240 S. State St.
The Westerville Planning Commission on Sept. 22 voted 6-0 to approve an application by Matt Davis for site modification and a conditional-use permit for a mixed-use redevelopment involving two buildings – 12,300 square feet and 4,840 square feet – on a 2.25-acre site at the former Armory.
Approval is with the condition that simulated divided-light windows be used on all sides of the original Armory building, excluding a proposed addition. A simulated divided-light window is one piece of glass with a grid of superficial muntins on the interior and/or exteriors.
Voting in favor were Paul Johnson, Steven Munger, Dave Samuelson, Brian Schaefer, Kimberly Sharp and Craig Treneff. Kristine Robbins was absent.
Davis, cofounder and CEO of Worthington-based COhatch, said a closing is scheduled at the end of this year on the city-owned property, and he anticipates COhatch will open by October 2022.
“The vision for this site started when I was working with the city and we saw the building and fell in love with the historic nature of the Armory building, and we saw the mechanic room in the back,” Davis said. “I’ve had this vision with my team to create not only our COhatch concept but North High Brewing, as well as an outdoor family space and incubator for start-ups, as well as a space that we can be life-friendly, pet-friendly, family-friendly all across the same site.
“In this site, we envision not only 50-plus companies working there, 200-plus people working there day to day, over 100 nonprofits on scholarship and 50-plus start-ups on scholarships. We’re very excited about the opportunity to restore this facility.”
Schaefer said the COhatch concept is great.
“Everything you’re saying around the community sounds amazing,” he said.
Davis proposes to redevelop the site for a diverse mix of uses, including office (coworking space), event space and restaurant/microbrewery, according to a staff report by Jeff Buehler, a Westerville city planner.
He said site changes would include relocating the access point to the north side of the property, improving the parking lot and creating a wide variety of outdoor spaces and rooms in support of the various uses.
Small additions to each building also are proposed, as are façade changes, including new windows, according to Buehler. New landscaping, fencing and a dumpster enclosure also will be installed.
COhatch’s “Town Hall 2.0” concept is to provide a place where small-business owners, freelancers, start-ups, nonprofits and employees of large companies can thrive in both their work and personal lives, according to a Sept. 23 news release from the company.
“The 2.3 acres the building sits on gives us the opportunity to create a beautiful, one-of-a-kind destination that fits the lives of our members and the public,” Davis said. “This location will have indoor and outdoor work and meeting spaces, North High Brewing, peaceful gardens, outdoor event and activity areas, a natural kids play area, integration to the Westerville bike trail and, of course, spaces for our furry friends. We think it will have everything needed for work, play, philanthropy and family.”
The Armory building will be fully restored and internally modernized to align with the future of work, the release said, adding that it will include the addition of a four-season room, primarily constructed with glass, to take advantage of the outdoor gardens for meetings and events year-round.
The gardens outside of COhatch also are planned with multiple gathering areas, with lighting designed to create an intimate and welcoming environment that can be used by members for graduation parties, baby showers and other celebratory events.
The garage building on the property will be transformed into a North High Brewing restaurant and brewpub with indoor and outdoor dining space.
Davis said the restaurant would be family-friendly, with wings, tacos and “high-end bar food.”
The green space to the east of the building, which is connected to the bike path, also is touted as family- and pet-friendly and will serve as a space for live music and events.
“We’re always thrilled to partner with COhatch as they expand to new locations,” said Gavin Meyers, North High Brewing founder. “These historic properties give us the opportunity to try concepts that are unique from anything we’ve done in the past.”
The site will serve as an extension of COhatch’s incubator space, The Gateway, by providing start-up education, resources and funding to local entrepreneurs.
“COhatch has been the right partner when it comes to tapping into the success of Uptown Westerville,” said Monica Irelan, Westerville city manager. “They shared our vision of bringing the historic Armory site back to life. This project creates a space the entire community can enjoy, pairing modern-day workforce needs alongside amenities residents and visitors want. We’re excited to see this all take shape.”