Worthington council: High North proposal gets nod; referendum period begins

Also: Trivium development approved by ARB/MPC

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group

Worthington City Council voted on April 19 to approve Direct Retail Partners’ High North planned-unit-development zoning proposal to redevelop and redesign the Shops at Worthington Place mall at 7227 N High St. 

“As Worthington has continued to grow and attract interest from major companies, one of the major missing components is modern, sophisticated office space for a high-level workforce,” council president Bonnie Michael said in a prepared statement. “Our location in central Ohio is incredibly well-positioned to attract top talent, and High North allows our city to offer a work environment that is competitive with major cities.”

The mixed-use site’s approval by council, which follows Architectural Review Board and Municipal Planning Commission approval March 25, will enter a 60-day referendum period before returning to the ARB and MPC for final approval. 

Even still, the project, which comprises a mix of restaurant, retail, commercial office space and public areas, is slated for construction in the fall, according to a news release from CBRE Group Inc. – a commercial real estate and investment firm that is working with Dallas-based Direct Retail Partners on the project.

Worthington City Council on April 19 approved the planned-unit-development zoning change for the High North project at 7227 N. High St.

“This project offers prime visibility to the most trafficked intersection along I-270 as well as state-of-the-art office design, outdoor amenities and curated retail options,” Collin Wheeler, vice president at CBRE, said in a prepared statement. “It is incredibly exciting to be able to work with our region’s leading employers to show them what Worthington can offer them and their employees.” 

“We are incredibly excited to begin construction on High North as it will further solidify Worthington as a competitive business submarket,” David Watson, managing principal and CEO of Direct Retail Partners, said in a prepared statement. “We spent a lot of time carefully designing the building to incorporate the historic feel of Worthington while adding contemporary architectural design and building finishes. This asset will be cohesive and exciting and will serve as a best in class example of a true ‘live, work, play’ environment.” 

High North is expected to be constructed in two phases. The first phase will involve demolishing part of the mall’s northern area to make room for the construction of an 8- to 10-story office/mixed-use building and the creation of a central promenade for pedestrians, among other developments. 

Phase 2 would include the construction of a 6-story office/mixed-use building on the southern portion of the site. 

Worthington economic-development director David McCorkle said the site’s economic impact for the city would come from income-tax revenue from employers and commercial tenants at the site and the site’s ability to help the city retain talented workers because of the amenities it offers. 

“Not only are you going to have Class A office space that’s filled with good-paying jobs that’s going to directly benefit the city’s bottom line from an income-tax revenue perspective, but it’s also going to help us attract and retain employers along the corridor that need to see some redevelopment on that site,” McCorkle said. “Retail has struggled for a little while, and the mall is no different. This is an opportunity to take a struggling retail asset and have it be something that generates income-tax revenue in the city and gives us some of the first Class A office space that the city will have constructed to compete for some of these larger deals in the region.”

Trivium development approved by ARB/MPC 

Construction company Trivium Development received final approval April 8 from the ARB/MPC for its mixed-use site proposal at 121 W. Wilson Bridge Road in the Worthington Gateway project. 

The ARB/MPC approval follows council’s approval of Trivium’s PUD proposal Jan. 19 and the conclusion of a 60-day referendum period thereafter. 

The 46,000-square-foot project, which is to be constructed on the Gateway site where a Holiday Inn had stood for years at 7007 N. High St., is expected to include a restaurant and retail space on the first floor with office space on the second and third floor, and an approximately 12-room hotel on the fourth floor

The majority of the original plan stood upon receiving final approval with only minor revisions, according to assistant city manager Robyn Stewart.

“There were only minor revisions to the previous proposal, primarily to address requests heard during the zoning-modification process regarding pedestrian accommodations and bicycle parking,” she said. 

Stewart said Trivium has indicated its next steps are to complete final engineering and apply for the appropriate permits with hopes of starting construction in mid- to late summer. 

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve