Steakhouse. Frozen yogurt shop. Trader Joe's.
We don't yet know what will become of the Max & Erma's property at Frankfort and Third streets, but we have a little more insight about what YOU want to see.
The German Village Society borrowed an idea from Sandusky, Ohio, this fall when we placed badges on the original Max & Erma's facade with the prompt: "My Dream For This Building Is ... ."
What was the original Max & Erma's restaurant closed in August, and social media erupted with anger and sadness. One poster wrote: "Very sad news. Kids now-a-days will not see the history of lots of places here in Columbus because they are gone."
In September, news broke that a Gahanna real estate investor had purchased the building, and it is now advertised for lease. The real estate agent for the property was game to work alongside the society to create the badge project, which was part public art-part public input forum.
Our dreams and desires for the property are relevant. The kinds of businesses that German Village has been able to attract and nurture over time tend to be independent and locally owned, and that is at the center of our mixed-use history and future.
German Village was historically comprised of home occupation businesses such as dentists and tailors, corner stores and manufacturing sites.
The residential sphere multi-family parcels kept the community dense and allowed for neighbor-to-neighbor interaction. Over time, German Village has seen a clustering of commercial services along main roadways, a decrease in home occupations (we need our elbow room in 2017!), and a decrease in the number of multi-family parcels.
But the mix is not about history, it is squarely at the middle of the future path for central Ohio. I've been perusing the MORPC 2050 reports (a little light reading? Ha!), and all of the demographic trends in the coming 30 years point to a generation of both young professional and empty nesters looking to live in neighborhoods where the jobs they work and the services they need don't require reparking the car.
That's how German Village was built.
And because of our exceptionally tight-knit and activist community (not to mention the average wealth of neighbors), businesses want to be wanted by our neighbors before they open their doors. It's just good business.
So, the economics of the Max & Erma's space might not allow the income Trader Joe's needs, but would someone with fresh-food, or farm-to-table, or bodega-savvy be willing to take a chance at Frankfort and Third?
German Village Society has more than one effort underway -- again -- to think about our role in getting the mix right between residential and businesses.
On the one hand, neighbors love their easy parking. On the other hand, neighbors love knowing they can walk to businesses that meet their needs.
Stick with us this winter as we seek your feedback, fears, dreams and ideas for not just one property but for our overall mix. How do we keep it historic and hip?
German Village Society Executive Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village Notebook column .