A Columbus optometrist plans to build a 10,000-square-foot office building downtown, razing two structures to make room for the $1 million development near one of the city’s busiest intersections.
Dr. Melissa Webb, owner of The Eye Place at 2665 Foxpointe Drive, purchased the 1.2-acre tract in the block north of 11th and Washington streets from Columbus resident Max Lemley.
Webb’s property includes:
Webb needed more space to grow her optometry practice and will be able to more than double the square footage for her four-doctor office. Webb said the added space will allow her to house the latest medical equipment, including diagnostic tools used in eye exams. She also will have a retail area for items such as sunglasses and eyeglass frames.
With just 3,000 square feet on the city’s east side, Webb’s office is able to have only two optometrists working at the same time. She also has an office staff of 11.
Webb said her practice has seen significant growth in recent years, but that has been capped because of space limitations.
She plans to use 6,800 square feet of her building, with the remaining 3,200 square feet leased for office, retail or restaurant space.
Webb would like to begin construction of the new medical office by summer and complete work by late summer of 2014. She plans to seek a tax abatement from the city to pay reduced taxes over a period of years in exchange for her business investment. That request will go before the City Council for approval.
Webb said she had been looking for a place to expand her office when learning about the availability of the Lemley property.
“I see downtown as one of the fastest growing areas of our community,” Webb said. “And I think the location will be more central for my patients.”
Webb believes downtown development will continue in the area of 11th and Washington streets even though much of the recent growth has centered near The Commons.
The Eye Place will be next to the downtown fire station and a block away from Joe Willy’s Burger Bar, which opened last summer. It’s also about two blocks from the recently expanded ZwanzigZ pizzeria and brewery.
“People are just driving by now, but I think there will be more activity with people walking in the area with the addition of a new building,” she said.
John Wilhelmi, co-owner of Joe Willy’s Burger Bar, and business partner Joe Carman took a chance deciding to have their restaurant about seven blocks away from the city center.
“When we opened up, we were much busier than we ever anticipated,” Wilhelmi said of his restaurant in a renovated Victorian-era home at 1034 Washington St.
Webb hopes she can encourage further growth in that area of the downtown with her development.
The front of the building will face Washington Street, and about 50 parking spaces will be available.
Webb said if someone shows an interest early on, the office or retail space can be built to suit their specific needs.
Webb joined the optometry practice, then owned by Dr. Robert Woodruff, in 2005 after graduating from the Indiana University School of Optometry. He retired in 2011 after 37 years.
“Dr. Woodruff gave me a great base to work with,” said Webb, who will also maintain her current office on Foxpointe Drive through 2017, when the lease runs out.
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