Another re-post from the old blog, this is from December 2007. It is very instructive to read the information that NRI gave at the first announcement meeting, back in the days before the recession hit with full force and they were optimistic that the full plan for the development could be completed in a short time. Although they never gave a firm timeline for building, and the slow pace of the last 5 years was probably in their contingency plans, they certainly gave the impression at the time of announcement that things would be moving fast.
I have some pride in the predictions I made in this story back in 2007. A lot of what I said has come true. It’s still up in the air whether the Yard will be a mini-Easton or a standard shopping center with the kind of stores you find at the Tuttle Crossing mall, but becoming an Easton clone seems to be an unlikely outcome. The Giant Eagle to be built on the north side of third was not even in the plans back in 2007, that land was tacked on later.
(From Dec 2007)
An overflowing crowd was on hand Dec. 19th at the middle school to hear the plans for the new development that Nationwide hopes to build on the former Big Bear site. The project will be called Grandview Yard, a name that was apparently chosen because of the nearby railroad tracks (however no rail yard is on this property). Brian Ellis of Nationwide Realty Investors described Grandview Yard as much like the Arena District, but no plans were given for any sports facility. Ellis said the the development would be a “regional destination”, with access coming off the nearby 315 highway, allowing the project to be high traffic without congestion problems for the rest of Grandview.
Here are the numbers that were presented: Commercial space – 1.5 to 2 million square feet. Residential units – 600 to 800, with up to 2000 new residents (increasing the population of Grandview up to 25%). Private investment – $900 million.
The biggest question about the project that is yet to be answered: What will be unique about Grandview Yards that creates a regional destination? The Arena District, also owned by Nationwide, has the Arena and the soon to be built Clippers baseball stadium. Easton has already sewn up the high-end retail market. What will be offered that creates a regional draw?
Mini-Easton in Grandview?
A development that is similar to the physical plan that the Nationwide developers presented is the Easton Town Center. Here are the stats on that project:
Easton Town Center sits within the 1,300-acre Easton development, a 12 million square-foot mixed-use development undertaken by The Georgetown Company and Limited Brands, Inc. since 1994. With over 7 million square feet of retail, office, hotel, and residential properties already complete, Easton has in this time become a dominant destination for commercial activity in Columbus and throughout the entire central Ohio region. With over 25,000 employees already in place, Easton will eventually have over 40,000 employees at full build-out.
A press release on the Easton website claims that the development has 99% occupancy. There are even lower-end stores that are being forced out to make room for new high-end retail.
It is possible that Nationwide hopes to make a mini-Easton, with similar high-end retail. Ellis spoke of “Junior anchors” described as 20,000- to 30,000-square-foot department stores. But is it possible to have two high end retail developments in the same region? When asked about what sort of retail stores would be in the plan, Ellis said that no contracts had been signed, and that they had not finalized plans for the type of retail stores to be built.
My guesses for Grandview Yard
Since Nationwide is being intentionally squishy about specifics on Grandview Yard, I’ll give my own guesses. I don’t have any experience in the commercial property business, so take them with salt and tequila.
There will not be high-end retail. Stores will be similar to The Mall at Tuttle Crossing – Pottery Barn, FYE, Godiva.
High end condos have been done in the area, without major success. G.Y. housing will be focused at middle class condos, under $250K. Get ready for more kids in the Grandview school system.
I still don’t know what the “regional draw” of the development will be. Either this is just wishful thinking, or there is a big shoe waiting to be dropped.
The whole project can be put on hold if the feared national recession happens next year (Ohio is already in recession, but not Columbus). You might see a huge empty lot for many years, until the economy recovers. What you see now is a huge empty warehouse, so I don’t count an empty lot as necessarily worse.
Nationwide will have its hand out for city money, like they did with the Arena. A TIF request (using new tax revenue to finance building the city utilities) is expected, but the history of the Arena project showed they wanted more. After a failed levy to increase the sales tax to pay for the arena, Columbus sold $30 million in bonds for infrastructure without a vote. If Nationwide expects a deal from Grandview that is at all similar, and holds the development pending city money, expect the controversy to tear the city into fight-to-the-death factions.