Golden Bear Shopping Center redevelopment appeal scheduled Sept. 16

NATE ELLIS
nellis@thisweeknews.com
This rendering shows redevelopment plans for the Golden Bear Shopping Center. Developer Scott Patton, managing partner of Arcadia Development of Ohio LLC, will make a final pitch to Upper Arlington City Council on Sept. 16 to redevelop the 54-year-old shopping center at 3700 Riverside Drive.

Upper Arlington City Council is expected to weigh in on the fate of plans to redevelop the Golden Bear Shopping Center during an appeal hearing Sept. 16.

Developer Scott Patton, managing partner of Arcadia Development of Ohio LLC, will make a final pitch to redevelop the 54-year-old Golden Bear Shopping Center, 3700 Riverside Drive.

At the hearing, Patton will ask council to reverse the Upper Arlington Board of Zoning Planning's 6-1 rejection of his proposal June 15 to redevelop the 1-story shopping center into a 5-story, 199,847-square-foot project that would include 26,000 square feet of office, retail and restaurant space and 102 condos on the upper four floors.

In denying the project, the city's community-development staff and BZAP members balked at Patton's decision to remove 24,000 square feet of dedicated office space on the second floor. City staff and BZAP members said the office space is needed to generate income taxes to support city services.

Patton has said the changes were needed to make the project economically viable after city officials told him in August 2019 they wouldn't extend a tax-increment financing deal through which the city would provide initial funding for the project's parking garage and other infrastructure upgrades.

Since the decision by BZAP, Patton said, he's committed to city officials that at least 5,000 square feet of his project's first floor would be reserved for professional offices.

The commitment includes a pledge that if he's unable to recruit enough office tenants for the redeveloped center's first floor, Patton's project partner, Vikram Rajadhyaksha, founder and CEO of Columbus architecture, engineering and surveying firm, DLZ, would open a first-floor office.

"In these uncertain times, with the pandemic, we are committed to moving forward," Patton said last week. "We're still committed to Upper Arlington and the huge investment we've made to Upper Arlington.

"(Rajadhyaksha) has a minority-owned firm, and he's also going to move in and live in the project's residential space. He's not a current resident of Upper Arlington."

City Council clerk Ashley Ellrod said Aug. 27 it hasn't been determined if the meeting will be held via a virtual teleconference or in council chambers at the city's Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road.

The single-story shopping center has 34,000 square feet of retail space with tenants that include an FCBank branch, Colin's Coffee, Figlio Wood Fired Pizza, Dale Cleaners, Thai Basil and a post office.

Patton said the post office is scheduled to vacate the center next July, and FCBank also is expected to leave within this year. He said the current center "in a sense, is going to die," and noted that by comparison the $50 million project he's proposing would result in a financial "windfall" to Upper Arlington Schools and the city.

"We've had an economic-impact study done by a third-party that shows the (annual) property taxes on the existing site, right now, are close to $73,000," Patton said. "Our project would result in the property taxes, which go to Upper Arlington Schools, would be approximately $1.9 million (per year).

"That's a 2,000% increase from the existing property taxes they get right now."

The study, conducted by Danter Economic Development Strategies LLC, estimated the proposed project would bring in $243,717 in income taxes annually to the city.

Those would be generated through income from restaurant, retail and commercial office employees who would work on the development's first floor, as well as from residents of the condos who would work from home.

"It should be noted that approximately 65% of the condominium buyers will be current residents Upper Arlington," the study states. "However, they, in turn, will be vacating homes to be occupied by new owners.

"To calculate the impact of adding 102 new homes to the Upper Arlington market, one must consider that the total impact will be 102 new residents to the city."

Patton said that outside of the commitment to add office tenants to the first floor, the project hasn't changed from what was proposed to BZAP in June.

"It's a great project, and it's a great benefit to the city," he said. "Were optimistic we'll get approval from council, and we'll be able to move forward.

"We're committed to the city, even in these turbulent times."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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