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By Rick Rouan | 04 Apr, 2012
An Atlanta developer has signed on for a $50 million project to build apartments and retail space along the High Street side of the Columbus Commons park downtown.
The developer, Carter, is expected to break ground in late August on a project that will include 300 apartments over 23,000 square feet of retail space in three six-story buildings between State and Rich streets, Capitol South Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. CEO Guy Worley said.
Carter is paying $2 million for the site, Worley said.
Capitol South oversaw the development of the Columbus Commons park, opened in May 2011, after the City Center mall was demolished. The mixed-use development that Carter will build is phase two of that project, Worley said, and the organization hopes to eventually attract a large employer to a one-acre site at the corner of Rich and Third streets as well.
Carter is in the design phase of the project and will be up for architectural review by the Downtown Commission later this month, he said. The project is expected to be complete by January or February of 2014. Programs in the park and the parking garage will remain open during construction.
“It’s a sign that Columbus has become an attractive place for national firms, national developers, to come,” said Dan Williamson, spokesman for Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman. Williamson said that projects like the Scioto Mile redevelopment and a recently announced plan to demolish the Main Street dam and add parks along the Scioto River’s edge help attract those developers.
“In terms of the commitment the political and business leadership have made for downtown Columbus, that sort of investment attracts the private investment,” Carter President Scott Taylor said.
Worley said he did not know how many proposals Capitol South received, but Carter’s came during a second round of requests that went out about a year ago. Developers did not meet Capitol South’s precise design specifications during the first round, he said. Those specifications include red brick exterior, classical design and maintaining dense retail storefronts on High Street, he said.
Apartments will be built to “condo specifications,” Worley said, and will have access to an elevated pool, club room, fitness center and an underground connection to parking.
Rents will range in price from about $850 a month for a 600-square-foot studio apartment to about $1,700 a month for a 1,600-square-foot town home, Taylor said.
First-floor retail will front High Street, and Taylor said he expects to attract restaurants to two buildings on either side of an arcade that exits near Town Street. Those restaurants then could provide outdoor dining space within the park.
“That provides a unique, European, high-end dining experience that will be warmly embraced,” he said.
Retail rents are expected to run between $27 and $30 a square foot, Taylor said.
Capitol South has not studied the market for retail property on South High Street, Worley said, but he said that, anecdotally, it’s growing, and young professionals are creating a demand for urban dwellings.
“(Young professionals) tell us they want the urban lifestyle and the amenities associated with it,” he said.
Taylor noted a five-year average occupancy rate of more than 95 percent in the Columbus apartment market as proof of the demand for rentals.
“We believe that the market is there for a product like this,” he said. “This is really going to be a high quality urban residential experience in a unique setting.”
Atlanta-based Carter has some recent experience in Ohio. The company developed the Banks, a riverfront property between Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. That project included 300 apartments and 80,000 square feet of retail space.