Foreclosures during the Great Recession added to thousands of blighted properties in Columbus. But, a state program helped fund demolition of many of those houses and apartment units.
Business Loss Spurs Economic Development
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When Columbus loses businesses it’s generally in a good position to recover. City Center Mall was quickly redeveloped into a public park for a growing Downtown population. The Arena District’s success was mostly brought by a private investor. But when a large company closes in a smaller municipality with fewer tax resources and less infrastructure, recovery is even more crucial. WOSU examines a case study in Grandview Heights.
It’s near lunch rush hour at Jason’s Deli located in the Grandview Yard development on Goodale Boulevard.
A worker explains to a new employee where to put ticket orders.
Grandview Yard opened two years ago filling part of the void where the Big Bear supermarket warehouse once stood.
Big Bear closed in early 2004, taking with it about $350,000 in annual tax revenue and leaving behind a lot of empty space.
But Patrik Bowman, who heads Grandview Height’s economic development department, says the property quickly turned into an asset with the completion of I-670 linking to downtown and the emerging Arena District.
“We never realized that 60 acres would become available,” Bownman said. “I mean, that was more than we could certainly foresee at that time.”
City benefits from nearby development
By the time Big Bear closed, the Arena District and its surrounding neighborhoods – the Short North and Victorian Village – were becoming a hot spot. The area just east of Grandview had become one of Franklin County’s most desirable places to live, be entertained and work. And that played in Grandview’s favor.
“Fortunately a number of the developers immediately saw the value of the location and the potential of that property being so close to downtown and OSU,” he said.
Nationwide Realty Investors, which developed the Arena District, won the project.
“Grandview immediately embraced the concept of a more dense, high-quality, mixed-use project,” Brian Ellis, who leads Nationwide Realty Investors, said.
That same concept – urban, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly – was used in the Arena District. Ellis said the $500 million Grandview investment was a no-brainer.
“So we really felt like, that with the downtown aspects of the project working well, that just a mile away in Grandview we could still have significant success,” Ellis said.
While Grandview Yard is in the beginning stages – so far 13 of 90 acres overall are developed – the revenue lost from Big Bear already has been replaced. And Bowman expects tax revenue to increase as the property continues to be developed over the next ten years or so.
“A little higher-density office buildings will far exceed what was being generated on [the Big Bear warehouse site].” –Patrik Bowman, Grandview Heights Economic Development Director
Like Jason’s Deli, the Urban Active gym, Hyatt Place hotel and other offices have been open for almost two years. Eighty-five percent of the commercial space is leased, and the apartments in the project are nearing completion.
A half mile east, construction has begun on another set of high-end apartments: 600 Goodale.
“Certainly there’s been a lot of exciting things happening in the Short North, in the Arena District, in Grandview,” Brett Kaufman, who is CEO of Kaufman Development, said.
Kaufman has had his eye on the property across from White Castle corporate headquarters. For years, a dilapidated building sat empty. But Kaufman saw potential in the location.
“This site seems to fit right in the middle of all of that,” Kaufman said. “One of the things that’s probably most attractive about it is just the proximity to, not just the Arena and Grandview, but also to the accessibility to Arlington and the rest of Columbus.”
Nonetheless Nationwide Realty’s Brian Ellis said continued development of Grandview Yard will hinge on demand for urban housing and retail.
“The development is all market driven,” Ellis said. “The market has received the project very well so far. But, you know, we’ll continue at a pace that a market really allows us to do.”
The most recent U.S. Census data indicate the market for central-city living has spiked in the past decade. Grandview Heights and Nationwide Realty officials both are betting that urban population growth will continue.