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Development Proposed for Giant Eagle Site on Whittier Street

Brent Warren Brent Warren Development Proposed for Giant Eagle Site on Whittier StreetThe Whittier Street Giant Eagle and its parking lot, photo by Brent Warren.
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The Pizzuti Companies has submitted a rezoning application to the City of Columbus to redevelop the Giant Eagle store at 280 E. Whittier St.

The local developer bought the 2.3-acre site in 2017 and spoke to neighboring residents about plans for the parcel earlier this year, telling them that Giant Eagle would remain at the location as long as the grocery store continued to extend its lease.

Giant Eagle now says it will not be extending its lease, and that the store will close at the end of 2020.

The initial development plan calls for a 62-foot tall building on the site that would hold 330 residential units and about 8,000 square feet of commercial space, as well as parking for as many as 236 cars. Elevations or visuals showing what the building will look like were not included in the packet submitted to the city.

The existing store has about 30,000 square feet of space, as does a more recently-built, two-story Giant Eagle in Bexley.

The Schumacher Place Civic Association posted on its Facebook page that the group’s meeting on September 1 will feature a presentation on the proposal, with a vote scheduled for October 6. The store sits just outside the boundaries of German Village, in the Schumacher Place neighborhood.

Pizzuti Companies provided the following statement when asked about the proposal:

Giant Eagle has notified Pizzuti that it has chosen not to exercise the extension option in its existing lease at 280 East Whittier Street…As a result of this change in circumstance, Pizzuti is pursuing a redevelopment plan that thoughtfully repositions the site within the context of the surrounding neighborhood. Pizzuti is committed to positive reinvestment in the community and is making every effort to mitigate the length of time this site sits vacant and uninhabited.

Giant Eagle has closed several of its Central Ohio stores in recent years, many of which have since seen new tenants or redevelopment proposals, including this one near Victorian Village, another in the Grandview area, and another on Dublin-Granville Road.

Giant Eagle spokesperson Dan Donovan said that the company has not had any issues with Pizzuti since it purchased the property, but that “given the logistical challenges we have already experienced at the location and the uncertainty of project specifics, we are forced to make the difficult decision to close the store effective at the end of the calendar year.”

Donavan also provided the following company statement, which goes into more detail on the reasons for closing the Whittier store:

Giant Eagle has considered it a privilege to be a part of the unique and passionate German Village community for the last 16 years. Unfortunately, due to the small footprint of our leased location on East Whittier, as well as the outdated infrastructure we inherited from the previous tenant, it has been an ongoing challenge to provide superior service to our guests. The current pandemic and social distancing guidelines have only exacerbated these challenges, as well as the rapid adoption of our Curbside Pickup and Delivery services which are impossible to adequately scale at this location.

We know that many German Village residents have been incredibly loyal to the store and to our brand and we are hopeful that we can continue serving these guests at our Grandview Yard Market District or our Bexley Market District Express, which are each less than six miles away from the Whittier Street location. We also know the importance of having a nearby pharmacy for prescription needs, and are actively considering multiple potential opportunities to maintain a pharmacy in the German Village community once the store closes. Importantly, we appreciate the ongoing commitment of our German Village Giant Eagle Team Members, all of whom will be offered positions at our other central Ohio stores.

Editor’s note: this article was updated after it was first published, with more information from Giant Eagle.

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