Sept. 1 marks the one-year anniversary of the community open house that opened the first phase of the Grandview Yard project.

Sept. 1 marks the one-year anniversary of the community open house that opened the first phase of the Grandview Yard project.

Despite a poor economy, Nationwide Realty Investors continues to proceed with the project.

The latest component, a three-building, 154-unit apartment project located on 3.7 acres just north of the Hyatt Place hotel, was approved by the Grandview Heights Planning Commission on Aug. 23.

Work on the apartment project is expected to begin within 30 days, and the first residents are expected to move in by the fall of 2012.

"The apartment project is a really exciting addition to Grandview Yard," Mayor Ray DeGraw said. "It really makes it seem like a true mixed-use development now that we are going to have a residential component."

The project so far has exceeded the city's expectations, council President Steve Reynolds said.

"It's been nothing but pleasant surprises one after another," he said. "Architectural drawings can make anything look nice, but when you actually see what NRI's built in this first phase, it just has a tremendous feel to it."

Although it's always been known it would take a decade or more before the Yard was fully developed, "what NRI's been able to do already in the midst of this economy is amazing," DeGraw said.

"The speed of the construction of this first phase has been remarkable," he said.

"I think it's because they look at things long-term and don't feel the need to react to short-term factors," DeGraw said. "NRI is able to do it and most developers aren't."

The first phase includes a three-story 92,000-square-foot building with tenants that include M+A Architects, Jason's Deli, The Buckeye Hall of Fame Grill, Schindler Dentistry and Massage Envy.

It also includes a 42,000-square-foot Urban Active fitness facility, the 126-room Hyatt Place hotel and a parking structure.

"Almost all of the office space is filled and the hotel is doing remarkably well," Reynolds said. "That's good for us because of the revenue the bed tax brings."

The new apartment project represents a $19-million investment from NRI and adds further excitement to the Yard, DeGraw said.

"Development leads to development," he said. "If we can just get this economy moving a little bit, I think we'll start to see retail development at the Yard really take off next year."

Grandview, the developer and the city of Columbus agree improvements on Third Avenue, including the widening of the road, will help spur the development of retail components at the Yard, DeGraw said.

The Yard is helping the city attract attention and interest not only in the project area, but in the area of the city surrounding the development and throughout the city, he said.