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City to Partner With Three Developers for Office and Residential Projects on West Nationwide Blvd

Brent Warren Brent Warren City to Partner With Three Developers for Office and Residential Projects on West Nationwide BlvdPhoto by Walker Evans.
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The City of Columbus announced today a plan to add retail, multi-family housing, and significant office space to the far western end of Nationwide Boulevard. What started last spring as a call-for-proposals from the city to redevelop the historic Columbus Municipal Light Plant building at 555 West Nationwide Boulevard has expanded into a multi-faceted plan with the potential to transform what is now an out-of-the-way pocket of Downtown into a full-fledged extension of the Arena District.

The three buildings that make up the former power plant facility – they sit on the south side of Nationwide, just east of the Olentangy River – would be redeveloped by Brad DeHays’ Connect Realty, along with Schiff Capital. Plans for the buildings call for a mix of uses. Dehays said that could mean as much as 33,000 square feet of office space, along with event space and an auction house. Garth’s Auction of Delaware has signed a letter of intent to use a significant portion of the renovated space.

Across the street from the power plant property is the city’s Central Outpost complex; a collection of buildings used for maintenance and storage that will be moving to a new McKinley Avenue facility in 2015. Under the deal announced today, that five and-a-half acre piece of land will be redeveloped by Borror Properties. All of the existing buildings would be demolished and replaced by a new, 60,000 square-foot office building fronting Nationwide. A significant multi-family residential component is planned for the land north of the office building.

The last piece of the puzzle involves Nationwide Realty Investors (NRI), who control the 25-acre Jaeger manufacturing site that sits between the Central Outpost land and the railroad tracks.

Columbus Development Director Steve Schoeny said that the NRI piece of the deal is mostly technical; the original agreements the city had with NRI to partner on infrastructure improvements had to be modified to include the new developers. NRI has said in the past that they plan to eventually build residential there.

Schoeny said that the overall plan for the area began to take shape when the city received what they thought were solid proposals for the former power plant from both Borror Properties and Connect Realty/Schiff Capital.

“We really liked both the proposals, and we all sort of came to the same realization that, ‘hey, we own some land across the street,'” he said, referring to the Central Outpost land that they city was already planning on vacating.

“We’re really excited about the project,” Schoeny continued. “It extends the great work that NRI has been doing in that part of town for many years, while at the same time getting some great new developers involved in the area. I’m also excited about the kind of office space we are getting – unique spaces that are exactly the kind of product that the market’s calling for now…add that to what Nationwide is doing at Buggy Works, and it’s a great set of office products in that part of town…great places to put jobs.”

Another aspect of the deal is that Borror Properties plans to move their headquarters from Dublin to the new office building. Ruscilli Construction, who is a partner with Borror on the project, also plans to move into the new building.

“We’re excited to move Downtown, with all of our projects we are doing in the area,” said Jeff Baur of Borror, adding that parkland along the river – which would be developed with input from all of the developers, along with the city – has the potential to create a real destination. “We would love to connect to the path on the other side of river,” he said. “There are a lot of opportunities…we really envision a beautiful show-case park at the end of Nationwide Boulevard.”

Baur said that they wouldn’t purchase the land until the city is done moving out, likely not until late 2015. The target date for their office and residential projects, as well as for the re-habbed power plant buildings, is late 2017.

Mayor Coleman will ask City Council to approve the economic development agreements for the deal at the December 8th City Council meeting.

For ongoing discussion and updates on this project, CLICK HERE to visit our Messageboard.

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