Retreat to Grandview Yard

Brian Ball

When Carol Watkins and her husband, Craig Woods, began thinking about where to live after her retirement from Dublin-based Cardinal Health, they had plenty of choices. They sought to move from their large Powell home closer to the urban entertainment districts they enjoyed.

Downtown, German Village and the Short North naturally made their short list. “We also wanted something closer to my work,” says Woods, the senior trial partner for the law firm Squires Patton Boggs on Capitol Square. (His daily commute from Powell took 40 minutes.)

Watkins says German Village tempted the couple. “But for what you could get—moving from a large suburban home to something smaller—the opportunity to move [into a] brand new [home] at a lower price point was attractive,” says Watkins, who worked at Cardinal Health for 25 years before retiring as chief human resources officer three years ago.

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The couple had little appetite for renovating an older home, as they also have a residence in Florida to maintain. “We wanted something more turnkey,” she says. Upper Arlington remained a possibility as Woods had spent much of his childhood and teen years in that community. “I’m sure we would have been happy there,” he says.

How they got to Grandview Heights came through developer Mark Wagenbrenner, who volunteers with Watkins for the Childhood League Center nonprofit. The two had a discussion about the few urban living options for empty nesters.

Ultimately, that conversation led Watkins and Woods to find a group of detached townhouses that Wagenbrenner Development was building as part of its Homes of Pullman Way neighborhood. Located within the mixed-use Grandview Yard, the community on the eastern edge of charmingly vintage Grandview Heights has blossomed with an array of modern living options. In Central Ohio, it is one of the hottest pockets of new real estate sales, in part due to its close proximity to Downtown and Ohio State University.

Grandview’s central location, Watkins says, is convenient when planning a night out with friends from Powell and other outer rim suburbs. “It’s a great location to gather before we go into the city,” she explains.

The couple’s home sits at the end of the row of 19 detached Pullman Way townhouses between Burr and Williams avenues along the eastern edge of the Yard. That stretch of homes offers between 1,700 and 2,666 square feet of finished living space. (Watkins and Woods chose one of the larger units.) A slightly more enhanced home a couple of doors away sold for $767,662, according to the Franklin County auditor’s office.

Watkins concedes that ongoing construction in the Yard occasionally results in some dust blown their way. “Keeping the windows clean takes some work,” she says. “So we’ll be happy when it’s done.”

Their detached Pullman Way home offered more than the empty nesters were actually seeking. “It has more space than we probably needed,” concedes Woods of the 2,666 square feet that includes five bedrooms. “But we still needed room for visitors.” Those visitors include suburban friends and professional colleagues. The couple’s blended family consists of five daughters, three of whom live in the Short North or in Grandview Heights.

Watkins and Woods have put their space to good use—including converting a lower level bedroom into a workout room. Another bedroom on the third level was recreated into a loft office space, says Woods. “It opened up the room and gave me a little more space,” he adds.

The home has two spaces for entertaining: the main-level great room, located just inside the front door, and a large family room that anchors the lower level when the guest list expands beyond six or seven. This area is used for viewing sports or other events on a large home theater setup. The lower space also offers close proximity to a EuroCave wine chiller as well as an open-air wine rack.

The main floor’s great room features a game table for cards and all the additional accoutrements required for hosting guests. This room, as with other areas of the house, has a sampling of Watkins’ souvenir artwork collected during trips to Africa and other continents around the globe.

At the rear of the home, the kitchen has three barstools overlooking the food prep island. A kitchenette serves, not only as an informal place to eat, but also as a well-organized space where Watkins can work on her beloved community service projects and board activities. (She is a board member of Franklin University, as well as the nonprofit Serious Fun Children’s Network and its affiliated Flying Horse Farms in Mount Gilead.)

The couple’s home has a fenced-in, outdoor patio between the house and its detached garage. It also has a northern view, offering indirect natural light open to the road rather than having views of brick walls on each side.

The patio has space for a grill, outdoor furnishings, stringed lights and container plants, the latter of which Woods tends. He says the hobby allows him to exercise a talent for growing things that he inherited from an aunt. “It really livens up the space,” he says, “and gives it some color.”

“Carole has an eye for interior design,” adds Woods, noting her idea to incorporate her workspace as part of the first floor’s main living area. He credits her experience of buying and providing input on the design of two newly built homes in the suburbs.

Generally, the couple has settled in well—allowing them to relax in Grandview when not visiting their southwest Florida home. Woods plans to install shelving in the garage this summer as he prepares for storing some plants that he can’t relocate inside the house during the winter. “There will always be something to change, but I don’t think we’ll do anything major,” he says.

Beyond the independent Homes of Pullman Way, Wagenbrenner Development has built an additional 25 attached townhomes—complete with private elevators and many with rooftop patios—on the east side of Pullman Way. Prices in that phase range from $525,000 to just over $600,000. The developer has 40 more units under construction nearby.

Grandview Yard master developer Nationwide Realty Investors—the real estate development arm of Nationwide Insurance—has built more than 800 upscale apartments at Grandview Yard, as well as a few low-rise condominiums.

For example, 828 at the Yard includes a collection of 35 flats in a five-story building at 828 Bobcat Avenue. The first two dozen of those condos with 1,400 to 1,570 square feet of living space sold at prices between $433,400 and $534,0000. Eleven units in that complex remained available in late April.

Rounding out the residential opportunities in the area is the Homes at Grandview Yard development, a collection of 79 houses built by M/I Homes. The first 12 houses in that neighborhood—with two to four bedrooms each and 1,960 to 2,720 square feet—are priced from $583,000 to just under $700,000.

A Grandview Hot Pocket