The Atlas Apartments featured in The Dispatch

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Atlas shrugs off the old, becomes hip new Downtown living space

By Jim Weiker

Read it on Dispatch.com

After sitting largely empty for years, the 110-year-old Atlas Building Downtown is enjoying a second life, this time as apartments.

Tenants have begun moving into the 12-story building, which was designed by famed architect Frank Packard as the headquarters for Columbus Savings and Trust.

Schiff Capital Corp. and other investors including Scott Pickett, SafeAuto Realty and Tom Heilman spent $23 million to purchase and transform the neglected office building into 98 apartments.

The developers gutted the building, with some important exceptions. The foyer contains the original marble floors, walls and staircase, along with original plaster molding and brass elevators.

“You really get the feeling of the old charm, but everything here is brand new,” said Michael Schiff, principal of Schiff Capital. “It’s like being in New York.”

Outside, the building looks much as it did a century ago, complete with an elaborate cornice that will be illuminated in a ceremony when construction ends.

Even though the building was stripped to a shell, its age is revealed in two details found in all the apartments: 101/2-foot-high ceilings and oversize double-hung windows that offer commanding views of Downtown, the Olentangy River and High Street.

The second and top floors include dramatic semicircular windows, and one unit — already spoken for — includes original marble floors.

The 98 apartments are divided into eight layouts, ranging from a 392-square-foot studio for $975 a month to a 1,288-square-foot two-

bedroom, two-bath unit that rents for $2,200. Parking spaces on a lot behind the building can be rented for $95 a month.

All units include stainless-steel appliances, walk-in closets and granite countertops.

The first tenants started moving into the building the end of March. Joel Lilly, chief financial officer for Schiff Capital, said leasing is going well.

“It’s been a good, steady momentum,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of young professionals and some empty nesters.”

Krissy Kearns moved into the Atlas soon after it opened. Before her divorce, she lived in a 3,000-square-foot home in Dublin’s Ballantrae community and was looking for a change.

“I knew I wanted to be Downtown,” said the 40-year-

old social worker. “The Short North seems claustrophobic, and a high-rise has a different feeling, more private. I also like the history of the building, the marble and the polished brass.”& amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; lt; /p>

Kearns pays $1,135 for a one-bedroom apartment that overlooks Downtown.

“At night, I fall asleep sometimes with the window open just looking at the skyline and listening to the sounds of the city.”

Kearns enjoys the nearby cafes and is looking forward to tenants moving into the 6,500 square feet of retail space on the first floor.

The building’s location, on the corner of N. High and E. Long streets, is likely to soon be more active. A developer is looking to build apartments on a parking lot across High Street, and several neighboring buildings are slated to be converted into housing.

As Schiff puts it, “This whole area will be transformed.”

jweiker@dispatch.com

@JimWeiker

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