New downtown apartment complex planned where home of developer’s grandmother once stood

Business

A Columbus developer has secured most of a city block on a major downtown artery and is planning to build a nearly $11 million apartment complex.

Ken Henson Jr., shared his plans for the 1500 block of Second Avenue with WRBL News 3 on Wednesday.

But it’s not just any downtown block for Henson. The property holds special sentimental value as well as redevelopment value.

Henson’s grandmother, Susie Hatcher Boykin, and mother, Sue Henson, were raised in a home that once stood at the center of that block.

That beautiful old home was torn down in the 1970s and the land directly across from the TSYS campus has been vacant for more than four decades.

Asked what his grandmother would say about his plans, Henson spent several seconds in deep thought.

“My grandmother was always busy,” Henson said. “She was busy doing something, whether it was planting flowers, doing floral arrangements. She worked in downtown Columbus at some stores. She was involved, I think she would be glad I was doing something to put that property back to use again.”

Henson was not only able to acquire the land that his mother’s family home occupied, over the last year he has pieced together most of the 1500 block between Second and Third Avenues.

That includes three old homes on Third Avenue that were owned by the Historic Columbus Foundation.

Henson is planning a new 68-unit complex in three buildings that will front Second Avenue. He is going to restore the old homes and convert them into apartments, giving him about 75 units on the block.

Henson hopes to begin site preparation work in late April, early May. If all goes as planned, the project should be completed sometime in late summer 2021. He is working with Columbus architectural firm 2WR + Partners on the project.

He must get approval from the Board of Historic and Architectural Review and the Uptown Facade Board. He has pictures of a complex in Oregon and plans to achieve a similar look.

“We have vetted everything with the Historic Columbus Foundation and they have shown it to their board,” Henson said. “We want to do something that is tasteful and at the same time fits. And at the same time have enough beds to get more people there.”

It will be the first new construction downtown apartments that are not along the Chattahoochee River in decades. The W.C. Bradley Company has opened 226 new units along the river in the last five years. They have also renovated two textile mills into apartment units.

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