Developer Chris Woodruff reactivates two downtown Columbus buildings in 1200 block

Columbus developer Chris Woodruff, president of the The Cotton Companies, stands in the window of the 1230 Broad building he has renovated.
Columbus developer Chris Woodruff, president of the The Cotton Companies, stands in the window of the 1230 Broad building he has renovated.

It’s all about timing, and Columbus real estate developer Chris Woodruff is confident he perfectly timed the revitalization of the 1200 Broadway block in downtown Columbus.

In 2005, Woodruff purchased two 1800s-era buildings. He stabilized them, then played the waiting game.

“I sat on them, but I also cleaned them up from the original,” Woodruff said. “I did the best I could with what I had. But I always had the intent of redevelopment.”

He pulled the trigger last year, starting demolition of the 1230 and 1232 buildings in the early spring. Construction began last June and, by the end of this year, Woodruff expects them to be occupied.

A locally owned restaurant will go on the ground floor of the 1232 building, and a Kilwins chocolate and sweets store will go on the first floor of the 1230 building.

The Cotton Companies, a real estate development and investment firm owned by Woodruff, will occupy the space above the candy shop. There is still 2,200 square feet above the restaurant that remains available, Woodruff said. He would like an office user but has not ruled out the possibility of renting it for entertainment space.

“My expectations (are that) all current tenants will have completed their build outs and be operational by the end of the year,” Woodruff said late last week.

He would not disclose who had signed the lease for the Kilwins. The restaurant will be owned by Leah Foley, wife of Frank Foley IV.

“We are thrilled to be a part of Christopher’s vision for growing the 1200 block of Broadway,” Leah Foley said on Friday. “We’re very excited to bring some West Coast culinary and cocktail creativity to Uptown Columbus. Our restaurant name and concept is currently a secret, but we will be revealing the news soon.”

Foley said she will use social media to roll out the name and concept over the next few months.

What is not a secret is what Woodruff and his development company, Uptown Cotton, has done with the two buildings that sit side by side on the east side of Broadway.

“I would consider where I am today on this project a success,” Woodruff said. “I undertook this project with the idea I would be able to deliver a product to Columbus that was unique and was not something that had been seen before from design and use perspective. I think I accomplished that in the way I was able to creatively adapt the facades to incorporate both historic and modern aesthetics.”

Woodruff is pursing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification, a national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings, commonly called “green” projects.

“That is important,” Woodruff said. “It is a progressive step into a more environmentally friendly design.”

He has activated the skylights on the second floor of both buildings and constructed a 1,500-square-foot courtyard behind the restaurant where a part of the building had to be demolished.

Uptown Columbus Inc. President Richard Bishop said Woodruff has nailed the timing of his project.

“I think with the number of opportunities that have come available in that block — strategically with the CSU College of Education and Nursing, what John Teeples’ plans for the 1200 Broadway building and the Hampton Inn at the corner of 12th and Broadway — Chris has brought this project online at the right time,” Bishop said.

The Columbus State University project is expected to be finished late this year and more than 1,800 students, faculty and staff will be in place by January 2017. Teeples, a businessman, real estate developer and builder, is planning to add a fifth floor to the old Raymond Rowe building. He will then market it for retail, office and possible residential. The Hampton Inn, owned and operated by local businessman Jack Pezold, will go under construction later this year and open next summer.

Will Barnes, with the firm Barnes & Gibson Partners, was the lead architect on the project. The construction was done by Brasfield & Gorrie, the same company building the CSU complex.

“What you see here is people paying attention to every little piece of downtown,” Barnes said. “This is not just a throwaway couple of thousand square feet, it is an integral part of the fabric of downtown. There are a lot of wins in projects like this if they are done right, and Chris has done this one right.”

Woodruff points to the windows as an example.

“The face of 1230, especially the upstairs windows were in disrepair and need to come out,” Woodruff said. “Instead of coming back with something that would reproduce the exact same thing, we took a cue from a few buildings I had seen in New York that had a more industrial feeling in the windows. With the facade board’s blessing, we were able to put those in.”

As they peeled back the layers, they also found hidden treasure.

“On the lower floor, we were able to remove the facade that had been there since the ’50s or ’60s,” Woodruff said. “In doing so, we discovered three historic columns that were original columns from the original facade in the late 1800s. But we put in a new modern store front. If you step back the whole picture is a very thoughtful design that hopefully enhances the landscape of Broadway.”

Chuck Williams: 706-571-8510, @chuckwilliams