First Tenants Begin Moving In at East Public
Transformation is well underway along the 677-691 block of Parsons Avenue. It’s another in a building momentum of projects that are bringing new life to the Southside thoroughfare.
Collectively known as East Public, the group of buildings has had its first office tenant move in. Another is on the way. There’s a restaurant and a brewery opening this fall, and one spot waiting for a lessee to round out the development.
The hub of local businesses is the work of Sidestreet Development – a partnership of Columbus business owners Blake Compton of Compton Construction and Brianne DeRolph and Killian McIlroy of Sidecar Creatives.
Adaptive reuse runs in the veins of Sidestreet’s team. Compton worked as the general contractor for DeRolph’s adaptive reuse project creating a live-work space in the Brewery District. But this time, Compton and DeRolph are approaching the project as business partners.
Sidestreet’s partners will move their respective businesses into the office space at East Public. Compton Construction has already set up shop, with Sidecar Creatives to follow in the same building. About a year into planning the team realized that to make the financials work, they would need to be tenants of their own development. Compton welcomes his construction company’s move to the Southside. He calls Olde Towne East home and is drawn to the neighborhood’s working-class roots. He’s also excited to activate the Parsons Avenue corridor for neighborhoods on both sides of the street.
Changes are a plenty for Parsons Avenue. The street’s infrastructure is undergoing a major transformation – from four lanes to three with a turn lane and parking on both sides of the street – along with the growing number of local businesses that are choosing to set up shop on the Southside. Recent additions like Two Dollar Radio and All People’s Fresh Market are reflective of the type of development Compton believes will continue in the area.
“I think the opportunity is that there are a lot of little pieces of land,” Compton says. “It’s not like Franklinton where there is a lot of land and few owners, there’s a lot of owners and a lot of little pieces of land.”
It lends itself to a street transformation building by building.
Compton says they have tried to be mindful in their development and how it fits into that neighborhood transformation. From the very beginning, the Sidestreet team reached out to neighborhood organizations like the Parsons Avenue Merchant Association (PAMA), the Parsons Avenue Rehabilitation Corporation (PARC) and the Schumacher Place Civic Association.
“What was important to us was to just get to understand what was going on in the community,” Compton says.
Sidestreet attended neighrobhood meetings for over a year with no agenda other than to get to know people. They wanted to be involved in the community before having to ask for their parking variance. East Public doesn’t include any parking.
Compton says it hasn’t been without its difficulties, but the team tried to ease concerns and has seen a majority support from the very beginning. Compton wants to be respectful of their neighbors on Beck and Elsmere Streets when it comes to parking, and is looking to create an area dedicated to alternative transportation like a CoGo station or off-street parking for LimeBikes or scooters.
East Public is also trying to curate tenants that care about the neighborhood. Plant-forward restaurant Comune will open at the end of September, serving up three meals a day. Parsons North Brewery will follow in October. Another 1,400 square foot building at the back of the development is still awaiting a tenant. Compton says they’ve talked to a salon, speakeasy, yoga studio and creative office space, with hopes to have a signed lease by the time the brewery is open.
There will be opportunities to get more neighbors and businesses involved in East Public as well. Compton wants the green space between the office building and the brewery to be an amenity not just for East Public, but the neighborhood. A second-story 1,100 square foot community space can also be rented out for small events.
Even as their first development is underway, Sidestreet already has another address on deck. The team purchased a 4,400 square foot, two-story building at 937 W. Broad St. in Franklinton.
“We’re always looking for buildings like that, that are kind of in the places where people don’t have their eyes on everyday but have a lot of character,” Compton says.
For more information on the development, visit eastpublic.com.