A modern condo tells the story of its industrial past.
When developer Kyle Katzpurchased the old Columbus Buggy Co. factory in the early 2000s, the Arena District was just beginning to morph into the bustling business and entertainment hub it is today. The stretch of West Nationwide Boulevard along the site of the former warehouse was nearly desolate, as was the plot of land that's now home to Huntington Park. The rumble of a train passing along the bridged tracks overhead might have been the only sound you'd hear. Now, Katz's collection of 68 luxury lofts-dubbed The Buggyworks-are within walking distance to not only the baseball stadium, but also Nationwide Arena, bars along Park Street, the Short North and Goodale Park.
Buggyworks is modern, urban living to a T, but the building's history dates back to the industrial revolution.
In the late 1800s, Columbus-like many other Midwestern cities-was home to hundreds of industrial manufacturing companies, producing goods ranging from shoes and cigars to hardware and furniture. One of the largest and most notable was the Iron Buggy Co., which in 1875 became the Columbus Buggy Co. The factory produced horse-drawn buggies and, by the early 1900s, grew to employ around 1,200 workers, who reportedly were able to produce one buggy every eight minutes. A couple of former employees are still well-known today. Both Harvey S. Firestone of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. and World War II hero Eddie Rickenbacker got their starts at the Columbus Buggy Co.
Along came the automobile, and the company folded in 1913. There sat the factory, empty wood-and-brick rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, until Katz purchased it.
Some of the renovated studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom lofts are leased as apartments, but most are owned as condos. Unit 211, a 1,400-square-foot two-bedroom, is for sale.
Impressively, much of the original architecture remains in this modernized space. Walls expose original brick and feature telling inconsistencies in colors and patterns-likely a remnant of a makeshift window repaired years later. Original solid-wood support beams are as functional as they are aesthetically pleasing. The exposed-wood ceiling is original, while the hickory floors are new. Modern track lighting and stainless-steel kitchen appliances offset the condo's vintage, industrial look.
The condo is mostly without walls. The master bedroom has an entryway about the width of a set of double doors, but there's no door to close. For those who want more privacy, a rod and curtain or wooden barn door would be fitting additions. The second bedroom, however, is partitioned from the rest of the space and offers ample privacy for guests.
Buggyworks fills only half of the vacant industrial complex. Last year, Nationwide Realty Investors purchased the other brick building once used by the Columbus Buggy Co., located just a stone's throw across a parking lot, to transform it into a modern office building. Final plans have yet to be confirmed, but there's talk that first-floor retail shops will accompany the office space. Few would argue against that convenient addition to the already centrally located Buggyworks, whose building has seen the shift from industrial revolution to urban revitalization.