enovation work is underway to transform the city-owned former Bistro 310 building downtown into a new coffee shop.

During the next two months, owners Tyler and Alissa Hodge and their contractor are working to transform the vacant 3,774-square-foot space into the new home of Lucabe Coffee Co.

The Hodges hope to open the new business in April.

On Aug. 15, the Columbus couple brought a proposal to the Columbus Redevelopment Commission that called for selling specialty coffees, teas, sandwiches, pastries and other baked goods at the location.

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In response, commission members who serve as the property’s landlord agreed to begin negotiations with Lucabe Coffee.

Terms, which were finalized Feb. 6 with the signing of a five-year lease agreement, establishes rent for the first year at $8 per square foot.

According to the following schedule released by Columbus Redevelopment Director Heather Pope, the payments will go up one dollar per square foot in subsequent years:

Year 1: $2,516 a month

Year 2: $2,830.50 a month

Year 3: $3,145 a month

Year 4: $3,459.50 a month

Year 5: $3,774 a month

If the monthly rent is more than 10 days late, a 10 percent late fee will be added, the agreement states. The agreement also states the Hodges are responsible for taxes, insurance, basic maintenance and utilities.

While that’s a lot of coffee, the couple has come up with a business model based on those at similar shops in multiple states that makes them confident Lucabe Coffee Co. will be sustainable for the long-term, Alissa Hodge said.

In addition, the facility has enough space that will allow possible expansion in the future that might include full-service breakfast and coffee roasting, she said.

While Tyler Hodge is a supervising engineer for Cummins, Inc. in Seymour, his wife said she’s been involved in the coffee shop business since her college days, and has been mentored by a number of successful proprietors.

The commission agreed to provide the couple an option to terminate the lease at the end of the second year with a 60-day written notice to vacate. There are two additional renewal options of five years each.

Design plans presented last year called for the coffee shop to have somewhat of an industrial look with light and open spaces.

In order to distinguish themselves from similar businesses, the Hodges’ proposed floor plan includes:

A children’s play area

A nearby dining area for watchful parents

A venue for local musicians and coffee tastings

Private rental space for special occasions and events

In August, the couple stated they would charge about the same amount as high-profile national coffee chains do, but extra perks would be included to provide a better value.

They also plan to serve free coffee to police officers and firefighters before and after their shifts.

Before renovations began Feb. 10, a Columbus firefighter provided a symbolic ax blow to kick off the demolition efforts at the property.

Bistro 310 originally opened at the old Commons Mall in 2004 and reopened at 310 Fourth St. in 2009 after being closed for a year-and-a-half. The restaurant finally closed permanently in December 2014.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.