Major Redevelopment Planned for University City Center on Olentangy River Road
University City Shopping Center, the retail strip at the corner of Olentangy River Road and Ackerman Road, could be demolished as soon as next spring. A plan to replace it with a six-story mixed-use development has been approved by the city’s Development Commission, and will go before City Council for final approval some time later this summer.
Skip Weiler of the Robert Weiler Co. and David Ruma of DCR Commercial Development developed the plan, which calls for ground-level retail, five floors of apartments, and a two-level parking garage.
The new building will replace the one-story retail center, although most of the parking lot, as well as the five existing outparcels in the shopping center (which hold a McDonald’s, a PNC Bank, a Raising Cane’s, an Applebee’s, and a Sunoco), will remain.
A new road behind the development will provide access from Ackerman to the parking garage and to loading docks.
Currently anchored by a Kroger and a Big Lots, the center is also home to a diverse mix of smaller tenants, including Fortune Chinese, Gyro & Kabob House, and the Columbus Table Tennis Club. All told, the current center holds about 116,000 square feet of retail space.
The new development calls for 122,000 square feet of retail and 237 apartment units. The garage will hold 640 cars, which will complement another 511 spaces in the parking lot.
Skip Weiler said that although Kroger has not yet committed to return to the new development, “we are attempting to bring Kroger and a number of the tenants back.” He added that work is tentatively scheduled to start in March of 2018.
Visuals provided by the development team show a new pedestrian walkway connecting the project to Olentangy River Road, although Weiler stressed that the final details of the design are still being worked out.
Although the new development is not within the jurisdiction of any existing Area Commission, a neighborhood plan for the area was produced in 2013.
Weiler and Ruma also recently teamed up to redevelop the former North High Street Taco Bell near OSU. That project, a six-story apartment building that will feature a new Taco Bell Cantina on the ground floor, is currently under construction.