First, a little review of the history of Grandview Yard and cooperation with Columbus.
When the plan for Grandview Yard was announced back in 2007 , there was a big sticking point. Access to the Yard is funneled by the rail bridges at Goodale and another at Third Ave., and the exit ramp off SR315 is not built for high traffic. All of the needed high cost road upgrades are inside the city of Columbus. All of the original plans for the Yard sited the buildings (and the taxes they generate) inside Grandview.
For two years Mayor Coleman balked at signing any agreement that had so much costs for his city, with so little upside. There was talk about the Yard helping the general area of Columbus on the periphery of the Yard, but with no real guarantees this would happen. The experience of the Arena District taught that new development can explode in one place, while leaving areas outside (the rest of the downtown) to wither.
In 2010, Columbus signed a deal to help with the construction of the Yard, after some incentives were offered. A big chunk of land that was inside the city of Columbus on the north side of Third Ave. was added to the plans (this is where the Giant Eagle is supposed to be built), and Nationwide promised to move 1,400 jobs to Columbus from Dublin. After the TIF agreement was signed, it was supposed to be full speed ahead for the Yard.
Where are the buildings?
The build up of Grandview Yard has been much slower than we were lead to believe. The great recession had much to do with that, but now that corporate profits are back up, we were supposed to see the buildings in the Yard jump up with great speed. Phase 1 had a hotel, an office and a fitness center. Then things stalled. The HealthSouth facility will employ more than 120 people, but the thousands of jobs that were promised have not arrived.
Instead we have an odd situation like the Giant Eagle, announced with much fanfare, utilities and parking lots built, then … nothing. We read stories about construction to begin soon, but no firm commitment.
Columbus takes the lead
Instead, the action is at the outskirts of the Yard, in Columbus, outside the land owned by NRI. Two large apartment buildings were built, at Third Ave. by the tracks, and on the Goodale connector past SR315.
Two new restaurants are planned for that section of Olentangy by Third that had an old bank and the former Lyons video production building. Millers Ale House, a casual-dining, sports-theme restaurant (a Florida based company with 64 locations) was announced early in May, and now Sbarro has said they will build a fast-casual food operation called “Pizza Cucinova” next door.
The general area of Olentangy seems to be successful for many businesses, the Fish Market always has a full parking lot, Cap City has a long and successful run here. If anything is questionable about this location, over-saturation of restaurants is an issue. Yes, the Yard may in the future provide a new locus of customers, but will the area support this many restaurants until the Yard has been filled?
Will these outlying food operations suck the life out of the yard before it has even been fully born?
I think Mayor Coleman is a pretty smart guy. I noticed that in that TIF agreement, parts of Olentangy near third were included. Which probably explains why the bank on the corner is now torn down, and two new restaurants are on the way up.