Old Schottenstein Department Store demolition begins to make room for new health clinic

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Demolition begins on the almost century old Schottenstein Department Store. A new health clinic will be built in its place. The target finish date is 2012.(Photo: Mandie Trimble)
Demolition begins on the almost century old Schottenstein Department Store. A new health clinic will be built in its place. The target finish date is 2012.(Photo: Mandie Trimble)

The Schottenstein Department Store stood on South Parsons avenue for nearly a century. But it’s been vacant for several years and now its demolition is underway. For neighbors the sadness of seeing a landmark disappear is eased by plans to build a new health center in its place.

Gloria Ireson and her little brown puppy stand on her front porch on East Barthman Avenue watching the first bricks of the old Schottenstein Department Store fall to the ground. The building, constructed in 1917, is just across a parking lot from her home.

“It would have been nice if that could have stayed but I believe it will help to get all these old buildings tore down because there’s a lot of people just hangs around in the old buildings,” she said.

Once the old department store is torn down a new John R. Maloney Health Center will be built.

“Oh I would like that. I wouldn’t have to go so far to see my doctor. That would be a lot better,” Ireson said.

The old Maloney Health Center almost collapsed a few years ago and Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman ordered it torn down. It’s now at a temporary center at South Point Mall.

Coleman said the old Schottenstein Department Store is the perfect site to build the new health center because he thinks it will help revitalize the neighborhood. But the caveat is the $1.6 billion bond package needs to pass in the fall to keep the construction on track.

“What happens if the bond package doesn’t pass, which would be a travesty for this community, is it would spend much more money to build things in the city. Therefore either delay or even eliminate some projects. Now whether this is will be one of those projects I don’t know. It depends upon which package, which issue, doesn’t pass and how the other priorities are lined up. It’s too early to say,” the mayor said.

Sarah Caudy stands in a parking lot adjacent to the department store. Caudy covers her mouth and her eyes are filled with tears as she watches the side of the building come down.

“My great-grandfather and my grandfather both helped build this building 91 years ago, so, yeah, it’s emotional,” she said.

Caudy said she wishes the city would have found a different building in the area to tear town instead, but she said, in her words, she’ll swallow her pride.

“I know my grandfather, if he was still here, would appreciate it, too, so. I’m glad it’s being put to good use,” Caudy said.

Patsy Hass, who lives on Fourth Street near the old department store, sits in a car watching the demolition.

“I feel that if it’s vacant, tearing it down is definitely a plus. By living in the neighborhood, you know, you see people trying to break in and vandalism. And putting something there that is of use for the neighborhood would be wonderful,” Hass said.

And Hass said the health center would be of great use for her since she does not have health insurance right now.

“That would definitely be a plus.”

Coleman said the city has put aside three-quarters of a million dollars for the new health center’s design. In the end Coleman suspects it will cost between $8 and $10 million. The mayor hopes it will be completed by the city’s bicentennial, 2012.

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