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Wall Street “Inspirations” to Spark New Retail Ideas

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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The Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District held their annual meeting on Wednesday, and provided a recap of everything they’ve accomplished in the past year. Additionally, a creative eye was cast upon the future through some new conceptual renderings showcasing retail opportunities along Wall Street, just south of the Lazarus Building. We spoke with Kacey Brankamp, Retail Recruiter at Capital Crossroads, to find out more about what the future may hold for Downtown retail in this area.

All renderings provided by Neighborhood Design Center.

Q: Just to set everyone’s expectations accurately… what’s the official designation you’re giving his project?

A: I like to call these designs “inspirations” for the public. To be clear, it’s not an official proposal or rendering for any construction project. These designs are intended to spark the imagination and encourage people to view what might be considered a useless alley as a huge opportunity for redevelopment. In other cities, alleys are really interesting and unique gems you discover on foot. They can be hidden treasures that contain one of a kind shopping, restaurants, and intriguing architecture with a true urban feel. We want to inspire people to consider this possibility for our downtown.

Q: What’s the reason for focusing on this stretch of buildings in this location?

A: I was out taking pictures and walked down Wall Street. I hadn’t seen the completed Annex at River South apartment project and the alley improvements including sidewalks, lighting, and bollards separating the vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Lovely improvements! With the Town Street improvements and Lazarus rehab, it makes for a very impressive little neighborhood. On the east side of Wall Street behind High Street, there is this collection of small buildings, garages, and courtyards/parking areas. Although it’s not much to look at now, I was inspired, particularly with the interior courtyard of the Trautman building. This picture to the right is in my office as a reminder. I started to think about the current consumers in the immediate area: over 200 units of housing that’s nearly 100% occupied and a fully leased and renovated Lazarus building with over 2,000 employees, many of whom park in the new parking garage, accessed by walking through Wall Street. Then when you add the new projects nearing completion (Scioto Mile and Columbus Commons, county courthouse), you get a sense that it’s only a matter of time before this stretch gets some serious attention.

Q: Do you think the alleyway of Wall Street can replicate the success we’ve seen on Pearl & Lynn Alleys?

A: Wall Street has a different set of assets – namely the pedestrian thoroughfare of Lazarus workers to the parking garage and the residential population who are craving some retail services. But you are also sandwiched between two parks, Columbus Commons and Scioto Mile, which will attract visitors. Plus the County Courthouse has inched closer to this area by jumping on the other side of Mound St. The area is accessible with nearby parking (on and off street) and the best part is that it lends itself to conversion into small retail space – exactly the type of inventory for which there is a demand.

As far as Pearl and Lynn Alleys are concerned, success will come when we see property owners create clusters of small retail stores. Right now, we have five restaurants in these alleys. They have the potential of holding an additional 35-40 retail stores.

Q: There are currently some vacant retail spaces along this stretch of buildings facing High Street. Is working to fill them on High Street also a part of the plan or do you think that will more naturally happen following the opening of Columbus Commons?

A: Just to reiterate, there isn’t a plan for Wall Street or High Street with regards to these designs or “inspirations.” Most properties on this block face both Wall Street and High Street, so if a developer or property owner renovates these buildings, they will fix retail spaces facing both streets. My focus as Retail Recruiter is to help fill all the vacant storefronts within the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District, so naturally High Street and those spaces fall into my scope.

Q: I’ve heard that Massey’s Pizza will be coming soon in this area. I’ve also heard that their concept may include a pizza shop up front as well as a wine bar in the back?

A: Yes, they are coming to the area hopefully around mid-December. We’re happy to already see some movement in this area. Massey’s plan is to have a “neighborhood bar” in the back of the restaurant that would open to Wall Street and cater to the residents at the Annex. I believe it’s more of a full bar than a wine bar.

Q: As you mentioned earlier, this group of buildings includes the Trautman Building, which was in the news a few years ago as a potential site for artist live/work space through the Artspace project that GCAC was investigating. Do you know if that project is still in the works?

A: I have no information on that project. I think it’s a good idea though.

Q: I’ve often heard people says that Downtown is more overlooked south of Broad than it is north of Broad in terms of retail and redevelopment. Do you think this inspirational focus will help to direct some attention toward the southern half of High Street?

A: Actually, I think there is a lot of attention and action in the southern portion of downtown right now. The list of projects south of Broad includes Columbus Commons, The Lazarus Building, The Scioto Mile, RiverSouth the new parking garage, new courthouse building, and the Annex at RiverSouth. Not to mention the purchase of The Jury Room by Elizabeth Lessner and the Betty’s Family of Restaurants, which is a huge gain for Downtown. So, I’d argue that there’s a lot of focus south of Broad Street. But, I’d love to see this concept by the Neighborhood Design Center inspire others to invest in the area, too.

Q: You mentioned earlier that this collection of existing buildings lends itself well to be redeveloped into smaller retail spaces for small businesses and entrepreneurs to set up Downtown. Tell us a bit more about that.

A: Generally speaking, repositioning older buildings is more cost effective than building new, but rates are entirely dependent on property owners. Wall Street probably offers a mixed bag on potential rents. Each building has a different story and several of the buildings would require renovation, with one in particular requiring major renovation. It really depends on the property.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: There is so much retail potential Downtown. If anyone has an interest or wants to know more, please contact me at [email protected] or 645-5133.

All renderings provided by Neighborhood Design Center.

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