A Columbus company looks to convert a historic uptown Athens building into a hotel

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – A Columbus company plans to convert a long-vacant building in uptown Athens into an extended stay hotel, with retail space and a restaurant.

This building at a busy intersection in uptown Athens has sat vacant for two years, but now a potential buyer is interested in using it for a combination of retail on the ground floor and rental housing on the two top floors.
This building at a busy intersection in uptown Athens has a potential buyer interested in converting it into a hotel. [David Forster | WOUB]
The company’s purchase of the building, however, is contingent on receiving a grant to remove asbestos, according to the grant application.

Indus Development LLC applied for $431,920 in state brownfield remediation funding to clean up the building at 63 S. Court St. The four-story brick building is at the intersection of Court and Union streets, directly across from the main entrance to Ohio University.

Indus is awaiting a response on the grant funds and it is unclear when it will hear back, said Mollie Fitzgerald, executive director of the Athens County Economic Development Council. 

Indus is a real estate development firm that also owns Indus Hotels, a hotel development and management company with more than a dozen properties, mostly in the Columbus area.

With the purchase of the building, an extended hotel would be on the second and third floor. The first floor and basement are planned to be used for retail and restaurant space. New storefront windows would be put on the first floor and on upper floors if need be, according to the grant application.

The Athens Masonic Temple Company has owned the property for over 90 years. The building was built in 1915 and started as a car dealership. Then, it became a bookstore in the early 1950’s which remained until 2019. 

Another business had previously planned to buy the building and turn it into student housing, but that plan fell through.

“It’s been a building that sat vacant for a number of years and is being back out into use,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s always positive.”