ZANESVILLE – There’s new life on the horizon for the 600 block of Main Street in downtown Zanesville, but first a complicated technical puzzle must be completed.
The buildings, located at 606, 608 and 610 Main Street, suffered a partial collapse in December 2013 after being empty for years. They were purchased by Nate Embry and his LLC, Downtown Redux, at a Muskingum County Auditor’s auction in early September 2019. Embry stabilized the building and began clearing debris from the collapse, but the things have slowed down during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Embry recently appeared before the Zanesville City Council Public Safety Committee and presented members with a plan to restore the buildings and bring them back to life.
Several things need to happen almost simultaneously for the building to be ready for occupancy. New interior steel structures, essentially a building within a building, must be constructed, and along with the front facade along Main Street must be shored up.
“It’s the only way to save what’s there,” Embry said.
Around the same time, there will be selective demolition of some of the rear portions of the buildings and concrete foundation work in the basement.
Embry told the committee that all contractors would be in place and work would begin by April 30, 2023. He said no contractor could commit to having the project completed by winter. , and if the project started and bad weather fell, it could leave the buildings in a precarious state, much more dangerous than they are now.
He told the committee he was pleased to present the plans, which had been approved by the Muskingum County Building Department, along with architectural renderings for another Embry-owned building, the former Wheel and Bicycle Store. Spoke at 634 Main St. This building, never in danger of collapse, will become a cafe.
Buildings mean a lot to Embry, as they played an important role in his photography career in the 2010s. Named one of the best studios in the country by Professional Photographer magazine, buildings were often used as backgrounds for studio portraits.
“We did this by acknowledging and highlighting the coolness of the actual buildings we are trying to save today,” he said. “We saw the beauty of this part of our downtown, and when we had the opportunity to save it, we took it.”
Embry said the ground floors of 606, 608 and 610 will be a pair of restaurants. “We will be the tenants,” he said, so that as soon as the buildings are ready, work on the restaurants can begin. One will be small plates, or tapas, the other will be an upscale restaurant unlike anything currently in the city. “The only reason we have these buildings, outside of saving them, which is important, is so we can create the kind of experience that helps create a sense of place in a city center. Along with other things people do, it creates its own energy, so people want to go to that area.”
“For me, the top echelon of user experience is physical space,” Embry said. “I know the experience we can create in these spaces will be something special and completely different from anything we have in Zanesville right now.” Since part of the back of the building will be removed due to the collapse, this will leave significant space along the driveway behind the building, for a patio or green space.
“When you see the scaffolding going up and the stabilization continuing at the front, once it starts, it won’t stop until it does,” Embry said. He said the contractors estimated the project would take about six months. “Once we got to that point, we got the building back to a liveable and safe state,” he said. “We know that in that moment the buildings are saved and after that we turn them into something with new life.”