A Columbus-based realty company has proposed turning the city’s historic Pump House into a restaurant, possibly to house a Bloomington-based brewery.

Moravec Realty LLC has made an offer to the city for the building and is proposing that it be operated by Upland Brewing Co., which has a brewpub and beer bar in Bloomington, along with tap houses in Carmel and in the Broad Ripple area of Indianapolis.

Developer Tony Moravec, who owns several local businesses in Columbus, including two restaurants, said that while Upland is his company’s preferred tenant, there are several steps which must occur first. If or when sale of the Pump House property becomes final, Moravec said the Upland board of directors would then discuss the opportunity and vote on becoming the tenant.

The Pump House building, which sits on a 1.8-acre property at 148 Lindsey St. and overlooks the East Fork White River, is classified as neoclassical revival style with 15,730 square feet of space.

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“I’ve been admiring it for years,” Moravec said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. “I felt it would be an opportune place to create a wonderful atmosphere for a family gathering as a restaurant-pub.”

The Pump House would not be Moravec’s first undertaking with a historic building. He staged a two-year restoration and expansion of the 1900-era Zaharako’s Ice Cream Parlor, 329 Washington St., which reopened in June 2009.

Moravec also owns the new Henry Social Club restaurant, 523 Washington St., and Blairex Laboratories, a pharmaceutical company at 1600 Brian Drive.

Moravec and his son, Ryan Moravec, also are investors in Upland.

During the past three to six months, Moravec said he, his son and some of the other Upland shareholders discussed a shared interest in creating an environment for Upland in Columbus at the Pump House location.

Moravec’s Pump House proposal was the only response to a city-issued request for proposals to find qualified buyers willing to redevelop the building as a restaurant or retail space with a regional draw and restore its historic interior.

“We’re going to move forward with the restoration,” he said, describing the process as likely taking 12 to 18 months.

If for some reason Upland doesn’t commit to the project, Moravec said a similar type of operator would be secured as the tenant.

Development proposals for the Pump House were due Friday, and city attorney Jeff Logston announced the results Tuesday during the weekly meeting of the Columbus Board of Public Works and Safety.

Mayor Kristen Brown said Moravec’s proposal was well-qualified and an exciting prospect for the city in redeveloping one of its historical buildings.

Built as the city water plant in 1901, the Pump House became the city’s senior citizens center in 1976 but has been vacant since 2011 when the new Mill Race Center opened.

City officials thought they had found a new use for it with a proposal from chef Daniel Orr, who signed a $100-a-month lease in July 2011 to convert the facility to a restaurant and brewpub. However, the city terminated the lease in April 2013 after Orr failed to make progress on the project.

The city rezoned the property in March 2014, limiting how developers could use the building. The building’s current zoning would allow only a restaurant, museum, liquor store or spa at the site.

Since Moravec’s intent is to renovate the inside as a restaurant for all ages, likely with an area reserved for those 21 and older, it fits within those requirements, Logston said.

In addition to limitations imposed by the zoning, an easement on the property means any new owner must have approval from Indiana Landmarks for any changes to the exterior of the building.

Last year, the city estimated it would take a buyer interested in investing an estimated $2.5 million to transform the building into a tourist destination. The building needs a new roof and new windows, according to the city’s appraisal. It’s unknown whether the heating or air conditioning works, and the interior lighting is outdated and inefficient.

The eventual buyer also would have to comply with the creation of an easement on the property to allow for the future extension of the People Trails and would have to work out licensing agreements with the Louisville & Indiana Railroad, whose main rail line passes through the property’s entrance.

About Moravec and Upland

Columbus-based Moravec Realty LLC is a real estate brokerage and development firm that specializes in tenant representation, product representation, development and acquisition and finance brokerage and investment analysis. The company is based at 1600 Brian Drive, where Blairex Laboratories is also located.

Upland Brewing Co. is a brewery based in Bloomington and founded in 1998. For more information, visit http://uplandbeer.com/

What's next?

A subcommittee made up of two members of the Columbus Board of Public Works and Safety and City Attorney Jeff Logston will review the proposal and make a recommendation on it as early as Tuesday.

The Columbus City Council also would have to approve the sale, potentially at its March 17 meeting.