Factory Turned Small Business Hub: The Fort on South High

Susan Post Susan Post Factory Turned Small Business Hub: The Fort on South HighAll photos by Susan Post.
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The Fort is an apt name for the collection of industrial buildings at 2000 – 2050 S. High St. Tracing their origins back to the late 1800s to early 1900s, what started as the Seagraves Fire Truck Factory is now a growing ecosystem of local businesses.

Fortner Upholstering led the way, purchasing the complex for its growing commercial operations in 2017. Now, the company is joined by roughly 20 tenants staking their claim on the South Side.

For the small businesses, manufacturers, artisans and more looking for space, the possibilities at The Fort are nearly limitless. Leases range from 500 square feet to 16,000 square feet and everything in between. Some spaces are already defined, others can be built out to the business’ needs. Nods to the building’s industrial past are apparent throughout the space, with brick walls, original wood floors, large, structural steel elements and more unique features that add to The Fort’s historic character.

Retail, offices, makers, event space, restaurants, a coffee shop – all have a part in McAllister’s long-term vision of The Fort.

“Having either a big manufacturer or just storage, I mean those are kind of easy, they don’t require a whole lot, but it also doesn’t really fulfill the vision of what can be in this grand old space,” McAllister says.

Instead, over the next handful of years, McAllister wants to turn The Fort into a destination. Somewhere people can come and spend all day.

Early adopters are already bringing attention to the stretch of buildings along South High Street.

The Columbus Printed Arts Center is creating a resource and community space for local artists with affordable access to photography and printmaking equipment. Via Vecchia has started work on their relocated winery and event venue at 2108 S. High St., immediately to the south of the complex. While Wild Ohio Brewing is setting up its production facility across the street at 2025 S. High St.

As The Fort continues to grow, McAllister looks to work with long-standing stakeholders in the community to figure out how The Fort could and should be contributing to the area’s revitalization.

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Additional Reading: Learn more about what it takes to build a destination with an in-depth interview with Justin McAllister on The Metropreneur.

The future home of Via Vecchia Winery.
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