COhatch, a Worthington-based company since 2016, has plans to repurpose Westerville’s historical Armory building at 240 S. State St. into a coworking space, start-up incubator, event space and family-friendly food-and-entertainment destination.
Westerville City Council unanimously approved legislation July 1 for the sale of the property for $700,000.
Jason Bechtold, Westerville assistant city manager, said COhatch is a qualified developer in restoring and repurposing several structures around central Ohio, adding that the plan is to renovate and expand the Armory to develop a Westerville COhatch, which is a coworking office-space environment paired with a North High Brewing Pub/restaurant concept on the site.
Bechtold said the intent would be to close by the end of this year or the beginning of 2022, assuming everything falls into place as expected. He said the sale also would be contingent upon economic-development incentives to be in front of council later this fall.
“Overall, it’s a very fast-moving project and a fast opportunity to revitalize a cherished building in the community,” Bechtold said.
In a May 27 report to council, Bechtold said the investment by COhatch, beyond the purchase price, would exceed $2.7 million, and the payroll generated from the development would be $2.5 million within three years of completion.
“The Armory renovation is a prime example of the collaborative work we do with local municipalities to re-envision and redevelop critical and vacant real estate to support community renewal and expansion while preserving the beauty and history of the location,” said Matt Davis, co-founder and CEO of COhatch. “This location will be a new flagship for Columbus and a key part of the overall network for our members to utilize for business and social use.”
COhatch started as a group of friends wanting to change the world of work, according to its website: cohatch.com.
“Tired of the usual 9 to 5 ways, we decided to find a new way to work, meet and live,” it states.
COhatch is helping municipalities re-envision community spaces as “Town Hall 2.0” hubs, according to a July 2 news release from Corey Kerr, COhatch spokesman.
He said the gathering spaces are intended to help community members access services, activities and amenities to live a fully integrated life that balances work, family, well-being, community and philanthropy.
Kerr said Westerville’s Planning Commission would have additional hearings about the project this summer to review related plans. He said the outcome of those meetings would determine timing for initiation of construction.
“The vision for the COhatch collaboration on the Armory renovation begins a public process to repurpose a space to benefit our residents, workforce and visitors,” said Monica Irelan, Westerville city manager. “This is an opportunity to introduce a destination-oriented, mixed-use development on the southern edge of our thriving, historic Uptown. COhatch is the right company to help identify collaborative opportunities that advance private industry revitalization and fulfill our promise to the Westerville community.”
The Armory, dedicated in 1938 and supporting military operations through 2005, is one of three properties the city has pledged to sell in an effort to consolidate police and court operations.
The city is in the process of renovating property at 229 Huber Village Blvd. to make way for its new police and court facility.
With the police and court relocation, the city will centralize and modernize its government operations in Uptown and expand the district to include additional dining and retail options.
The Armory’s sale to COhatch comes 100 years after the formation of the legacy Company C of the 118th Area Support Medical Battalion as a unit of the Ohio National Guard, according to Kerr.
The veterans memorial currently standing at the Armory site will be moved and enhanced at the Westerville sports complex on Cleveland Avenue, he said.
COhatch has locations, including its flagship location at 1581 N. High St. in Columbus, at 18 E. William St., Delaware; 4182 Worth Ave., near Easton Town Center in Columbus; 1554 Polaris Parkway in north Columbus; 1733 W. Lane Ave., near Upper Arlington; 659 High St. at the Hardware Store in Worthington; and 752 High St. at the Library in Worthington.
Other locations are in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Tampa, Florida.