It's back to the drawing board for the owners of the Bexley Square Shopping Center.Bexley City Council announced last week that Capital University officials withdrew their request for variances for the Bexley Square Shopping Center.

It's back to the drawing board for the owners of the Bexley Square Shopping Center.Bexley City Council announced last week that Capital University officials withdrew their request for variances for the Bexley Square Shopping Center.

Capital University spokeswoman Nichole Johnson said the university withdrew its application Tuesday. She said Capital believes that purchasing the shopping center would have been a benefit to the city and its residents.

"We still believe in the benefit," she said. "We decided to take a step back and re-evaluate the purchase. We have decided to terminate the contract (with Casto)."

Capital had a 90-day window of opportunity to evaluate the contract; the due diligence period ended in mid-June, although Casto officials indicated a willingness to give the university more time to sort out issues with the city.

Casto spokesman Charlie Fraas said the company will continue to seek a buyer for Bexley Square.

"It is still on the market," he said. "We are looking for buyers. Right now we are continuing to market it for sale."

Bexley City Council's zoning committee discussed the purchase and the variances one day before the June 22 council meeting. The zoning committee recommended that the full council vote against the request. Capital requested a variance for campus uses and another variance dealing with parking requirements.

Council member Rick Weber said there was great public interest in seeing retail maintained at the Bexley Square shopping center, adding "Campus uses in my opinion are what (gets) the negative reaction for me as far as this request."

Fraas said at the zoning committee meeting that redeveloping the Bexley Square Shopping center site would bring major complications. Casto looked at redevelopment of the site, but it doesn't make financial sense, he said.

"No matter how dense we made it, we couldn't make it work," Fraas said. "The ability to market retail sites of this size is getting harder and harder.

Last week, the owners of the Bexley Monk, a community landmark for the past 26 years, announced they would be closing their doors on June 26. General manager Remo Stripe said the restaurant has been struggling for the past five years. Recent reports that Capital was interested in acquiring the shopping center also contributed to the decision to close.

The shopping center's other anchor tenant Cosi said business is booming. The restaurant has been at the Bexley Square Shopping Center since August of 2002, said manager Virgil Carter.

"So far we are pretty much up (in sales) from this time last year," Carter said.

Current tenants of the shopping center include the Bexley Copy Shop, Edward D. Jones and Co., the Pilates studio of Bexley and Curves. Bexley Copy Shop owners declined to comment on whether Capital's proposed purchase was affecting its business.

When asked if Capital would consider the purchase at a later date, Johnson said the university would be willing to look at any purchase that presented itself but had no immediate plans to purchase the site.

She said Capital did not withdraw its application because of comments made by council members at the June 21 zoning meeting.

"I could not point to one thing, one meeting, one development or conversation we had with the city, or other developments that occurred during the due diligence period," she said.

Local retail analyst Chris Boring of Boulevard Strategies said it's never good for a shopping center to lose an anchor store.

"The Bexley Monk served as the largest generator of traffic for Bexley Square," he said. "I would think that in the short term Casto would look for another restaurant to take over the space that is already equipped for a restaurant."