Worthington has lost one of its prospective tenants for the Kilbourne Memorial Building, commonly known as the 752 Building.
The city of Worthington has lost one of its prospective tenants of the Kilbourne Memorial Building, commonly known as the 752 Building.
Sweet Carrot was slated to move into the facility and open sometime in 2016, but the company and the city announced Friday, July 1, that Sweet Carrot had backed out of the deal, citing costs that "far exceeded" expectations.
The Kilbourne building is owned by the city and went through a series of renovations totaling more than $500,000 in work -- funded by both the city and the Ohio Development Services Agency -- after Worthington purchased it in 2006.
Sweet Carrot was announced as the first new tenant of the site in September 2015. The company was signing on to occupy half of the building rent-free for about seven years, paying instead for renovations expected to cost about $400,000.
A clause in the company's agreement with the city allowed it to cancel the deal if costs reached more than $550,000, which owner Angela Petro cited in a statement to the city.
"Unfortunately, after months of reviewing architectural and spatial plans, soliciting contractor bids and the experience of industry mentors, I've come to the conclusion that I can't make Sweet Carrot fit in the space allotted, within a budget that I can support, based on my growing understanding of the restaurant's needs," her statement read. "Our estimated budget is in excess of $700,000 which brings an element of risk to the project that isn't good for Sweet Carrot or for the City."
Sweet Carrot representatives could not be reached for comment.
Worthington Assistant City Manager Robyn Stewart said although city staffers knew about Sweet Carrot's change of plans, they were unaware of the decision until late June.
"They just told us about it this past week," she said. "We knew as their concept had evolved that they had to look at their layout in a lot of ways. ... So we had talked with them for several months about different layouts and different ways to approach the space."
Stewart said those changing plans, not the building itself, were the reason for the expenses. She said Sweet Carrot's initial spending projections were accurate and that it wasn't the nearly 80-year-old building that caused problems.
"They had an idea of what their initial concept was going to cost to build out ... and it was really their plans that changed and evolved after they opened their other location in Grandview that resulted in a lot of the changes," she said.
Despite the setback, Stewart said, she still believes the space can "have a good, productive use." She cited Sew to Speak, a 2,000-square-foot fabric, sewing and knitting store that has scheduled an August opening in the other half of the building, as a positive sign.
Sshe admitted, though, that city staff members are "disappointed." Sweet Carrot had not completed any of the work on the interior that a new tenant would require, and Stewart said it's too early to tell how long it might be until a new tenant could be in the space.
"We don't know what the timeframe is going to be because first we have to identify a business," she said. "Because Sweet Carrot had (signed) a lease for us, we hadn't been marketing that space. So we'll need to return to that effort. But until we identify the business, it just depends."