A major redevelopment of the Golden Bear Shopping Center appears to be on the horizon but with reductions from original plans.
After city officials in March expressed opposition to some aspects of Arcadia Development of Ohio LLC's plans to rebuild the Golden Bear Shopping Center into a 6-story featuring retail, professional offices and condominiums, a degree of uncertainty hung over the project.
Despite that, Arcadia managing partner Scott Patton remained optimistic that compromises could be reached, citing a five-year working relationship with the city that has included his involvement in the Arlington Gateway development, an 11-story mixed-use project that's been approved to be built on West Lane Avenue.
For now, at least, it appears Patton's prediction was on the mark.
On June 17, the Upper Arlington Board of Planning and Zoning unanimously approved a redraft of plans Arcadia put forth for the shopping center, which has stood at 3700 Riverside Drive for 53 years.
Among the changes was a reduction in the height of the building from six stories to five. That addressed one of the primary criticisms city planning-division officers raised, with planning officer Justin Milam saying a 6-story building would be more than 50 percent of the maximum height limit allowed in that zoning district and "would set a dangerous precedent and is beyond what staff would recommend that BZAP approve."
Patton said he understands some nearby residents and business owners might remain opposed to his revised plans but said the plans materialized at the behest of city officials and after his company held three outreach meetings with people in the neighborhood.
"It's always difficult to reconcile 100%," Patton said. "We went to our first (BZAP workshop meeting) in November 2018, and we have consistently gone back to BZAP and heard what they've had to say.
"We originally had 6 stories. Now we have 5."
The proposed building is 15 feet shorter than the previous submission. It still exceeds maximum heights permitted in the zoning district by 14 feet, but planning-division officials supported allowing that aspect of the project, and BZAP agreed.
"We originally had 32,000 square feet of office and 32,000 square feet of retail," Patton said. "Now we have 20,000 square feet Class A office and 20,000 square feet of retail.
"We now have two outdoor spaces for retail."
Arcadia also reduced the number of "high-end residential condominiums" from 112 to 79.
Additionally, it catered to officials' calls to reduce parking by eliminating 117 spaces.
"We heard there was need for more greenspace and connectively -- sidewalks," Patton said. "We've increased the greenspace, and we've enhanced the landscape plan."
According to Milam's June 17 staff report to BZAP, the planning-division staff hasn't historically changed its recommendation after it has issued one on a project "but will note that both significant and positive revisions have been made" to the Golden Bear Shopping Center proposal since the original plan.
BZAP's review of the project's final development plan is expected to take place by mid-July, Patton said.
He added there aren't expected to be changes to the project's scale and scope compared to the most recent plans.
He also pointed to an economic development impact study for the project, which estimates the redevelopment of the center will lead to approximately $3.9 million in income tax revenue to the city in the first 10 years after it's built.