The Hills Market will be opening a new full-service Downtown grocery store in Columbus this spring. The appropriately titled “Hills Market Downtown” will be located at 95 North Grant Avenue.
“We see this as an opportunity to spur the redevelopment of Grant Avenue, which is an important link between the Discovery District and Neighborhood Launch, and to continue to encourage a neighborhood to emerge in Downtown,” said Randy Walker, of Randy Walker Real Estate Services. Walker’s company jointly owns the building in a partnership with the The Edwards Companies, developers of the Neighborhood Launch residential project located adjacent to the new grocery store.
The Hills Market Downtown will be very similar in concept to the original store up north, which opened in 1993. There will be a strong focus on local and organic produce, a large selection of wine and beer, specialty products made all across Ohio, a full service deli counter, a large area containing both hot and cold prepared foods, a wide selection of seafood, a butcher shop, and a large assortment of grocery, pantry and household items.
“You’ll find CrimsonCup Coffee, Gerber Chicken, Snowville Creamery and Smith Dairy products, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, All Natural Ohio Beef and all of the other products that our customers know and love,” said Kyle Baker, co-owner of The Hills Market and managing partner for The Hills Market Downtown. “We’d love to introduce Lucky Penny Farms, Dietsch Brothers Chocolates and Stan Evans flatbreads to a new audience.”
This Hills Market Downtown store will be 30% smaller than the original location, clocking in at 12,000 square feet, compared to the original’s 17,000. A good portion of the floor space will be dedicated to what Baker describes as “things that you can’t find at North Market” such as cereal, cleaning supplies, toothbrushes and batteries. The new store will also feature a full service bakery, coffee shop and indoor and outdoor seating areas for dining.
“This will be a very welcomed addition and a huge convenience to our busy lives,” said Mark Ballard, Downtown resident and owner of the nearby Sugardaddy’s Sumptuous Sweeties. “Given the proximity of the store to our condo, we will likely shop there four times per week for fresh produce, meats, seafood, breads, cheeses, and wine.”
The idea of opening a Downtown grocery store was not in the original master plan for Neighborhood Launch, which is a development purely residential in nature. But once the Grant Avenue property became available, the team at Edwards Companies began to explore their options.
“A few years ago, Wilson’s Auto Service wanted to sell the building, which backs up to the eastern end of our development’s footprint,” explained Kim Ulle, Vice President of Edwards Companies. “The whole vision for Neighborhood Launch has been to build an entirely new Downtown neighborhood and the best neighborhoods all have little corner markets, so we thought about figuring out a way to make this work.”
“The Hills Market came to mind right away because they’re already a destination market,” she added. “We talked to them right away, and they had already looked at other locations Downtown over the years and they felt very comfortable about this project.”
A destination marketplace may be exactly what is needed to spur additional condo sales and encourage new residential development Downtown. According to a story published by NBC4 in 2009, many potential urban residents mention a nearby grocery store as one of their top necessities when considering a relocation to Downtown Columbus.
“Grocery stores are one consideration of many when choosing a neighborhood in which to reside,” said Kacey Brankamp, Retail Recruiter for the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District. “This addition will no doubt make Neighborhood Launch and The Abigail housing projects more attractive, not only because of the goods and services provided, but because of the new activity this tenant will spur in the area.”
Currently, the approximately 6,200 residents who currently live in Downtown Columbus rely on grocery stores one to two miles away in adjacent neighborhoods, include The Brewery District Kroger, The German Village Giant Eagle, The Victorian Village Giant Eagle and the newly renovated Weinland Park Kroger, as well as the closest competitor, the historic North Market. Despite some similarities in product selection, management at The Hills Market doesn’t think that the new store will be too competitive with the North Market.
“We hope that our presence Downtown will complement rather than compete with them,” said Baker. “We often send folks to the independent markets on the north end of town if there’s a product or service that we cannot provide and we expect to do the same with our new neighbor.”
Another way that The Hills Market Downtown plans to draw customers is through a robust entertainment schedule that will feature cooking classes, wine tastings, and other special events. Additionally, the store will also offer catering from Hills Own Catering Shoppe and grocery delivery from hillsonthego.com which will service customers in other parts of the city.
“We know that there’s always been a need Downtown for this,” said Ulle. “There’s 2,000 residents within walking distance, but this new store will also bring people in from the next ring of neighborhoods to shop, including Victorian Village, German Village and Bexley.”
Management at The Hills Market is expressing a lot of confidence that the new store will be a success for both existing residents and future residents.
“The neighborhood is growing,” said Baker. “Folks like Jeff Edwards and Randy Walker have been investing in the area for years and, in short, there’s a growing customer base there that we hope to serve.”
“Being in close proximity to the Columbus College of Art and Design as well as Columbus State Community College is also a draw,” he added. “We would like to work with students and faculty at CCAD to also make our space a location for art, we hope to work with the culinary students at CSCC, and we’re currently working with Eartha Limited to make our store the greenest in Columbus.”
The Hills Market Downtown is scheduled to open in Spring 2012. More info at TheHillsMarket.com.