When Felisha Lyons first moved to Columbus in 1998 she remembers–during her commutes from the far West Side into the city–one particular building on the eastern edge of the Hilltop, a strange, but unique and historic, structure located at 1945 W. Broad St. that seems to jut out of the earth itself.
“It’s just so unique,” she said. “You can’t help but be curious about it: ‘What is that coming out of the hill?’”
The building, often referred to as the Lechner and Broad House, has served as a sandwich shop, florist, confectioner and more throughout its 100 year history. Now, it’s Lyons’ own, and she has big plans for the space.
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Lyons, the Executive Director of Accountability & Other Support Services at Columbus City Schools, purchased the property last July, and hopes to turn the property into a social enterprise complete with rooftop patio and event space.
While she’s not certain at this stage what business will take up the first floor of the building, she knows it will be a restaurant, one that uses the second floor space as an outdoor dining area and patio.
A potential idea Lyons is entertaining (although she is still considering a wide variety of options) involves the spot serving as a hub for a rotation of food trucks, each featuring a different cuisine.
“I love the idea of a food truck stationary. It could have different cuisines in there at a regular location so it stays fresh,” she said.
She also plans to rent out the rest of the property (a two-story home), ideally to a tenant who would help support her social enterprise.
What Lyons, a former foster mother and current adoptive mother, knows for sure is that she would like the space to benefit area youth.
“My heart has been with kids for years and years, so I would love for that focus to stay on youth, and youth in the community in particular,” she said. “I know it’s a pretty depressed area and oftentimes kids don’t leave that space. It could give them a chance to earn money, earn skills.”
Her plan is still in its early stages, but Lyons hopes her new property, once completed, will serve as a new hub for business and more in the Hilltop area.
“I’m hoping it will help to usher in a walking community and neighborhood where people can stop in and grab a sandwich,” she said “The DOT is right across the street, it really is a great location.”
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