Downtown is welcoming hundreds of new residents and workers, but retail has been slow to return to what was once central Ohio’s premier shopping area.
News that several new tenants will be moving by next summer into the remaining retail space available at Highpoint on Columbus Commons on High Street is being greeted as a welcome sign of progress.
An Arizona-based brewpub, Blasted Barley Beer Co., will take the largest space in the south building of Highpoint, a two-building upscale apartment complex opened three years ago.
It will be joined by Posh Nails salon and a location of Pinot’s Pallette, a franchised purveyor of painting-and-wine parties. The new tenants will join a juice bar and Asian food combo, Pure Pressed Organic Juicery and Hai Poke, a restaurant open now. In the North building, which filled in first, Swan Cleaners will be moving in, replacing its location across the street in a building that is set for redevelopment.
Representatives for Blasted Barley did not return a call seeking comment. The company has a single location, in Tempe, Arizona.
Leasing agent Todd Schiff of Robert Weiler Co. said finding the right tenants took longer than originally expected for several reasons. First, he said, “retail always follows residential. A retailer doesn’t want to sign a lease and wait until they have the critical mass to justify the location. They could go out of business first.”
The lack of other strong retail across the street also hampered efforts, Schiff said.
“Retailers would look at that and say, why is this vacant?,” he said, referring to storefronts on the other side of High Street owned by Plaza Properties. Plaza has only been signing tenants to short term leases as it plans to redevelop its property there. Plaza agent Jeff Ungar said it was too soon to discuss specifics of the plan.
Soon High and Rich streets will have “a thousand residents within a thousand feet of that corner,” making it an attractive spot for retailers and restaurants.
Still, experts in Downtown retail and development don’t expect national chains to be flocking to the core Downtown area near Capitol Square. Kacey Brankamp, director of strategic initiatives for the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District, said she is hopeful that Downtown retail will be sparked by more sections of High Street being filled in with new and rehabbed street-level space.
“The interest has always been there on the part of local and independent retailers. The problem has been the lack of appropriate space that’s ready to lease, affordable and clustered among other retail storefronts in an area where there’s consumer traffic.”
Brankamp said High and Rich streets could become another spot like High and Gay streets, where a cluster of new developments is poised to attract a clutch of new retailers.
“We’re on the cusp of having the type of corridor that eventually turned the Short North into a shopping destination,” she said.
Dispatch Reporter JD Malone contributed to this report.