Move-in day approaches for would-be residents of Whitehall's Norton Crossing

KEVIN CORVO
kcorvo@thisweeknews.com
Leasing is expected to begin by the end of the month for the 360 apartments at Norton Crossing, a $50 million mixed-use development at the southwest corner of East Broad Street and South Hamilton Road. One of the apartment buildings is seen in a May 30 photo; the parking lot in the foreground has been paved since then.

The first tenants of Norton Crossing, a $50 million mixed-use development at the southwest corner of East Broad Street and South Hamilton Road, are expected to move in by the end of June.

Frank Kass, founder and chairman of Continental Real Estate, the developer of Norton Crossing, said the entire project should be complete by the end of September.

The leasing office is set to open Monday, June 15, and tenants could begin to occupy the apartments by the end of June, Kass said.

On-site paving is nearing completion, but water lines to be installed by the city of Columbus are behind schedule, he said.

"It's just a little of everything we are going through," including the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, causing the delay, Kass said.

Still, the delay is less than two weeks as the water lines are expected to be installed for occupation by the end of June, he said.

"If not for that, we could have opened ahead of schedule," he said.

Kass said 15 of the 360 planned apartments have been leased, though no more leases will be signed until the water lines are complete.

An Old Bag of Nails Pub should be open by mid- to late July at Norton Crossing, he said.

The restaurant will be part of the clubhouse at the development.

Kass said he believes there is demand for the concept in Whitehall, and the success of a near carbon copy of Norton Crossing that he opened on the Maumee River in Toledo "bodes well" for Whitehall's version.

The Marina District in Toledo opened in February and the restaurant within it, also an Old Bag of Nails Pub, opened March 13, Kass said -- just two days before Gov. Mike DeWine ordered the closure of all restaurants in Ohio to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Even still, Kass said 120 units were leased in the 55-acre waterfront park while the restaurant remained closed and the clubhouse was yet to open.

"We had to do virtual tours, but it worked," Kass said.

In addition to the Old Bag of Nails Pub -- joining 14 others in central Ohio -- Norton Crossing will have open space and other commercial and retail sites.

The development will have 40,000 to 60,000 square feet of office space, about 20,000 square feet of retail and "upscale residential units for young professionals and empty nesters," said Whitehall development director Zach Woodruff.

Norton Crossing also includes a 1-acre parcel at 115 Shumaker Lane where an apartment building once stood that the city bought for $25,000 and demolished in August 2015, plus another 1-acre parcel that the Whitehall Community Improvement Corp. gave to the city.

The latter site, formerly home to a McDonald's restaurant just south of the shuttered Broad and Hamilton Plaza, was a contribution of the organization toward the Norton Crossing development, said Tom Potter, president of the corporation.

The Whitehall CIC purchased the parcel for $80,300 in November 2016.

In 2018, Whitehall closed on the $1.5 million purchase of the Broad and Hamilton Plaza, a 1.16-acre retail strip center at 51-91 S. Hamilton Road that once included the Shrimp Hut and Tacos Fogoncito.

Continental Real Estate Cos. also negotiated the purchase of three apartment buildings immediately north of the Broad and Hamilton Plaza and a former computer store on East Broad Street, just east of Holiday Lanes, 4589 E. Broad St., which is part of Norton Crossing, Woodruff said.

Norton Crossing is being built on the former site of the Commons at Royal Landing apartment complex.

The city deeded the site to Continental Real Estate for $1 after purchasing the 42-building, 270-unit apartment complex on 17 acres for $5 million from a New Jersey owner in 2016.

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency and the Franklin County Community Improvement Corp. organized and funded the $1.5 million demolition of the Commons at Royal Landing that began in December 2017, Woodruff said.

With all the parcels combined, Norton Crossing is about a 25-acre development, Woodruff said.

"We are very excited to see this project continue to advance and how it has reinvigorated East Broad Street," he said. "We look forward to the first occupancies."

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo