This year brought infrastructure improvements to the Northland Village site, but in 2009, Northland residents will see new buildings going up and new businesses opening.

This year brought infrastructure improvements to the Northland Village site, but in 2009, Northland residents will see new buildings going up and new businesses opening.

Over the last year, The Stonehenge Co., the developer for the former Northland Mall site, has reached agreements with the Franklin County Board of Commissioners to purchase land on the site for the county's new dog shelter, and with current tenant Vaud-Villities to relocate to 30,000 square feet in the former JC Penney building.

Stonehenge also sold a portion of the site to Wisconsin-based home retailer Menard's. Stonehenge president Mo Dioun said the company remains committed to the Northland area despite putting development of that store and other planned central Ohio locations on hold.

"Considering the year we've had with the economic environment, that's one heck of an accomplishment this year," Dioun said.

Construction already has begun inside the JC Penney building, Dioun said, and he expects both the inside and outside of the site to be ready for Vaud-Villities in the spring.

The theatre that stands on the portion of the site planned for the dog shelter will be demolished in January, with construction expected to start in early spring, Dioun said.

The groundbreaking hinges on the county's plans for the eight-acre site. Susan Smith, director of community relations for the shelter, said the county is still finalizing the budget for the project.

Once that is finished, she said, site plans can be completed and approved, and a groundbreaking can be set.

"Once they get everything down on paper, I think it will move rather quickly," Smith said.

Current estimates for the dog shelter involve spending $18-million to build a nearly 50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility.

Smith said the new facility will reflect changes in animal welfare programs that have come in the nearly 40 years since the existing dog shelter was built.

She said animals will have larger living quarters with natural lighting, and there will be room for those interested in adopting a dog to socialize and play with their potential pet.

"The facility we're in is just a holding space. That's just what it was designed for," Smith said. "There's not a lot of public space or adoption space."

Dioun said with those three major tenants in place, Stonehenge will look for a tenant to occupy the remaining half of the Penney building, which likely will be office use.

And with three to four anchor stores planned for the site, Dioun said work can begin to find 25 to 30 tenants to fill smaller spaces within Northland Village.

"We are continually marketing the property, and we expect to have more announcements in the first quarter of next year," Dioun said.

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com