Moravec owning Pump House makes great sense

Columbus would be hard-pressed to find a more suitable buyer of the historic Pump House than Tony Moravec.

Columbus-based Moravec Realty LLC has proposed buying the 1.8-acre property at 148 Lindsey St. and turning it into a brewery and pub eatery. That’s important for two reasons:

The building, eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, has been vacant since 2011.

Moravec, a developer and owner of a pharmaceutical company, has experience in refurbishing historic properties.

Built as the city’s water plant in 1901, the Pump House later became the county’s senior center in 1976. It filled that role until 2011, when Mill Race Center opened as the new senior center.

Chef Daniel Orr signed a $100-a-month lease with the city in July 2011 to turn the Pump House into a brewpub, but the city terminated the lease in April 2013 when Orr failed to make progress on the project.

The city has been trying to attract a buyer ever since. A rezoning of the property in March 2014 allows only a restaurant, liquor store, museum or spa at the site.

Moravec’s $285,000 proposal — the only one submitted to the city — fits well within those guidelines. Most importantly, he knows how to inject life into historic buildings.

He purchased Zaharako’s Ice Cream Parlor on Washington Street in Columbus and spent two years refurbishing it. When it reopened in June 2009, it marked a rebirth of what had been a longstanding, memorable city landmark. The work Moravec did in bringing Zaharako’s back to its former glory as an old-time ice cream shop has made it one of the city’s most popular attractions — for visitors and residents.

Moravec’s accomplishment with Zaharako’s and his company’s financial means are important because the city estimated that a buyer might need to spend about $2.5 million to transform the building into a viable business and tourist destination.

His proposal already has received approval from the Columbus Board of Works and Public Safety.

When the city council receives that recommendation Tuesday, a decision on whether to sell the Pump House to Moravec should be easy and an emphatic “yes.”