Years ago, local Facebook enthusiasts created the Clintonville Town Center Concept page to post their dreams for the long-dormant plot of land at the southwest corner of North Broadway and North High Street.

A March 2018 survey on the page revealed most people were hoping for "retail, restaurant and community gathering spaces" at the site.

Those people might be disappointed now that concrete plans for a portion of that site have been announced.

Black Gate Partners will develop some of the parcels where Clintonville Electric and the old Clinton Theater used to be. The development has been dubbed Clintonville Retail.

The 7,553-square-foot retail center will house three tenants, two of which will be Orange Theory Fitness and Great Clips, according to Black Gate. The center also will have 36 parking spaces behind it.

The announcement left some community leaders noticeably underwhelmed.

"It's not an inspiring development," said Libby Wetherholt, Clintonville Area Commission chairwoman. "It doesn't bring about anything in our aspirations for having a town center.

"We tried to do something or get the community on board with some things, and it just wasn't working," Wetherholt said. "Economics make this possible. Sometimes that's what wins."

"I can tell you why something spectacular didn't happen there," said Judy Minister, a real-estate agent and the CAC representative for District 4.

Minister noted that, in the years since the historic theater building was demolished and Clintonville Electric partly torn down in fall 2010, only two major proposals for redeveloping the site had been put forward.

Both were met with considerable public opposition -- most recently the 5-story, mixed-use concept from Northstar Realty in 2015 that faded away as nearby residents groused about the height of the building and the ways in which it failed to comply with the Clintonville Neighborhood Plan.

A problem with that site, Minister said, is that it's actually eight parcels with five owners.

"It's always been hard to negotiate a deal with so many people," she said. "To do the whole town-center concept, you had to pick up the whole site, and that was difficult."

The Black Gate proposal, according to Minister, involved the purchase of just three of the parcels, including the parking lot.

"It's really important to consider what hasn't been sold," she said.

That includes the shell of the old Clintonville Electric structure with its half-demolished sign, which many residents view as an eyesore, Minister said.

"They would like to see that go away," she said.

Not everyone is down on the planned retail center, however.

Khara Nemitz, a CAC member who represents District 2, where the Black Gate development would be, said Clintonville doesn't deserve its "anti-development" reputation.

"They want thoughtful development -- development that fits in with the community," Nemitz said.

A resident of nearby Brighton Road, Nemitz said the site now is an empty field that no one can use.

"It's really frustrating," she said. "The community is excited to have something filling that space."

Jenny Smith, president of the Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce, said she thinks the neighborhood's residents would be excited that they could walk to businesses.

"Most of our community would like to see something there," she said.

In any case, Wetherholt said, it likely won't be long before buildings start to rise at the site.

"This kind of thing probably won't need much of a variance," Wetherholt said. "It can get built without anybody's input, probably."

Columbus Dispatch reporter Mark Ferenchik contributed to this story.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1