According to a man who has been involved with the shopping center's development since 1994, "Mill Run is slowly filling up."

According to a man who has been involved with the shopping center's development since 1994, "Mill Run is slowly filling up."

Jason Taggart, principal and marketing manager of Taggart Management Real Estate Services LLC, spoke about Mill Run at a Jan. 20 luncheon sponsored by the Hilliard Area Chamber of Commerce.

Taggart has been involved with different aspects of Mill Run since becoming licensed in 1994 as an assistant property manager.

"We've got a very big developer in contract with the Kroger people, and we are working with them to try and change our parking ratios with the city of Columbus," Taggart said. "That's months away."

Relaxing those ratios would allow more retailers and restaurants at Mill Run, he said. Taggart would not identify the developer, but said, "We're trying to jointly attract a retailer."

Most people think of Mill Run as merely a shopping center, but the entire mixed-use development is comprised of 350 acres that border Hilliard, Columbus and Upper Arlington. Taggart said it includes the 280-unit Arlington Park Apartments, 1.2 miles of freeway frontage, 3.5 miles of walking trails, 1,800 trees, nine ponds, 30 miles of irrigation pipe, 1,700 sprinkler heads, 65 acres of greenspace and an outdoor amphitheater for concerts.

Mill Run is within a 10-minute drive for more than 200,000 people; supports a daytime population of 25,000; and 1,500 permanent residents, Taggart said. It is the fourth-largest mixed-use project in central Ohio, he said.

When it was originally developed in 1988. Big Bear-Harts was Mill Run's anchor tenant, Taggart said.

"At 125,000 square feet, it was one of the largest big-box deals in the five-county region at the time," he said.

"Everyone asks me, what's going on with Kroger?" Taggart said of the vacant anchor, which has never occupied the space. "Kroger bought the property from us in 2005, and it was a very difficult transaction" due to code issues with the city of Columbus.

Kroger wanted to put a Marketplace (which sells furniture, jewelry and other products, as well as groceries), in Mill Run, Taggart said. However, due to competition from Target, Meijer, Walmart, Giant Eagle, a Marketplace on Sawmill Road, and a successful store on Cemetery Road, he said Kroger can't muster the sales margins to support a store at Mill Run. Taggart has been working with Kroger to sell the 96,000-square-foot space to another retailer or developer.

"Instead of just saying I've got an empty grocery store in this shopping center, we have taken a new approach to market Mill Run and Hilliard as a region," Taggart said. He's been working with Hilliard's economic development director, David Meeks, to market to retail-specific brokers. Among their successes is leasing the old Kmart space to Floor & Décor Outlet. At 80,000 square feet, Taggart said it was one of the largest retail leases in the state of Ohio in 2011.

Despite having no main anchor, The Market at Mill Run has 90 percent occupancy, and 75 percent of its office space is leased.

In other developments in the region, Taggart said Auddino's, a wholesaler, has bought the old Fuddruckers site at Fishinger Boulevard. He also cited the new Primrose School and upcoming Ohio Business College on Trueman Boulevard.