Upper Arlington's Kingsdale: Kroger to sell Macy's site to Gateway developer

NATE ELLIS
nellis@thisweeknews.com
The former Macy's store still sits empty at the Kingsdale Shopping Center. The Kroger Co. purchased the property in January 2015 for $10.5 million, according to the Franklin County Auditor's Office.

Upper Arlington officials announced Sept. 8 that Continental Real Estate Cos. will purchase the former Macy’s property at Kingsdale Shopping Center, and left open the possibility that it will serve as a future site for a community center.

The blue-brick Macy’s building that anchored the Kingsdale Shopping Center for 45 years has been vacant for the past five. The sale by the Kroger Co. could be completed by late November.

“We are very excited to see change beginning at the former Macy’s site,” said Steve Schoeny, Upper Arlington city manager. “Continental is a national developer based in Columbus with experience in our community. It is the entity that undertook the 2009-2010 redevelopment of the portion of Kingsdale and is in the process of developing the Arlington Gateway development project on Lane Avenue.

“Continental is already very familiar with our community and the opportunities that this site represents.”

Kroger purchased the 105,422-square-foot building and affiliated 6.23-acre property in January 2015 for $10.5 million, according to the Franklin County Auditor’s Office.

Initially, company officials said a mixed-use development possibly including retail, office, residential, restaurant, bank and grocery uses would be constructed.

Kroger never brought forward a proposal for project, and on June 5 announced it was seeking an “exit strategy” for the site.

Schoeny said the city and Kroger have held discussions since the beginning of this year about the future of the site.

Continental takes on the property as it’s planning to break ground on the $100-million construction of the Arlington Gateway at 1325-97 W. Lane Ave. and 2376 North Star Road by the end of this year.

That 11-story project will have 218 luxury apartments, 132,444 square feet of office space and 28,097 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

According to a city news release, plans for redeveloping the Macy’s site are in the “early conceptual stages,” and Continental CEO Frank Kass has stated the project would feature apartments, senior living, offices, restaurants and structured parking – with a placeholder for a possible public use.

That public use could include a community center.

The Upper Arlington Community Center Feasibility Task Force, a group of 16 residents appointed by City Council, and three private consultant firms are exploring the feasibility of constructing and operating a community center in the city.

As part of that effort, the task force is expected to tell council in December if a site has been found for the community center.

If the task force determines a community center project is feasible and council supports the plan, Upper Arlington voters could be asked in May to support a ballot measure authorizing the city to spend up to a specified amount of money for the project and to issue bonds to finance it.

Kass said a community center “could be a fantastic addition to our plans” for Kingsdale and that his company is “committed to working with the task force and the city to fully explore this option.”

“The opportunity to oversee the redevelopment of this significant parcel of land at Kingsdale is exciting for us since it builds on the work that we undertook several years ago,” Kass said. “I am confident that our mixed-use vision will greatly enhance what has already been achieved at Kingsdale. It will be a win-win for residents, the city and the existing Kingsdale business community.

In a joint statement, CCFTF co-chairs Margie Pizzuti and Nick Lashutka said the task force is evaluating commercial properties that have a minimum footprint of 5 acres that are underutilized and/or are for sale as potential sites for a community center.

“With extensive community engagement through Phase I of the feasibility study process, we received consistent feedback that the former Macy’s site should be explored as a potential community center location,” the statement said. “With today’s announcement, we can now incorporate this valuable input from UA residents into our detailed assessment of the site options under consideration.”

The former Macy’s site will be included in the options to be evaluated by the Facilities & Partnerships Subcommittee of the Task Force.

“The task force consultants and city staff have engaged with Continental on the basic requirements for a community center,” said Greg Comfort, subcommittee chair. “I appreciate Continental’s willingness to potentially consider a community center as part of their plans.

“This opens the door for our Facilities & Partnerships Subcommittee to be able to fully consider a portion of the Kingsdale site as a viable option for a community center.”

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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