Whitehall and Continental Real Estate Cos. are fleshing out details of a transformation planned at the site of a crime-ridden apartment complex on East Broad Street and growing the scope of the $50 million project even before work begins.
Four months after the city said it would partner with the Columbus developer to knock down the 42-building Commons at Royal Landing slum, the partners are working to assemble adjacent properties fronting Hamilton Road to the east.
The Norton Crossing site is expected to total 23 to 25 acres, up from about 20 acres initially.
“We encouraged the city to partner with us in buying the adjacent properties so that the entire 25 acres at the southwest corner of Broad and Hamilton will be a complete, clean, clear palette,” Continental Chairman Frank Kass told Columbus Business First. “Everything we put there will be uncompromised. We said, ‘Hey, we’ll do (the project), but we can’t really do it and have some of these adjacencies to have the kind of quality we want.’
“Driving south on Hamilton and west on Broad, the only thing you’re going to see is a great looking project,” he said.
The additional sites – a retail plaza at 61-91 S. Hamilton Road, a trio of apartment buildings at 35 S. Hamilton and a check cashing store at 4775 E. Broad St. – are expected to make the complex more accessible. Also, it will permit more commercial buildings to be included.
Whitehall is negotiating to acquire the shopping center, and Continental is working to put the apartment buildings under contract. The National Check Cashers, at Broad and Hamilton, would have to be acquired through the federal right-of-way acquisition process, which city officials said is not likely to happen before 2019.
“The city intends to make right-of-way and road improvements,” Mayor Kim Maggard told Business First ahead of a State of the City meeting to discuss the proposal and other community developments. “It will allow for redevelopment of ... (the) entire corner of Broad and Hamilton. We’re very excited about that.”
Adds Kass: “The intersection of Hamilton Road and Broad Street is one of the more important, high-traffic intersections in Central Ohio.”
Forming Norton Crossing
Norton Crossing, named for the former Norton Field aviation field nearby, would include stores, restaurants, offices and residences in a series of one- to three-story buildings. The layout of the site still might change, but Continental and the city have a working template.
“It’s going to have different types of living units for Millennials, people working in a 2-mile radius of the site and empty-nesters,” said Kass, who is developing in Whitehall for the first time since he built the office building across Broad Street on the 4500 block. “But all of the units will be upscale and sized accordingly.”
Whitehall has changed since Kass last developed there. City officials estimate there are 20,000 jobs within 1½ miles of the project, and more jobs are coming. Heartland Bank will move its headquarters from Gahanna to the neighborhood, and Wasserstrom Co. is relocating to the building Kass constructed in the 1980s.
“We’re certainly going to attract young professionals like we haven’t been able to in decades,” said Zach Woodruff, director of the Whitehall Public Service/Building Department.
A town square could host community events, with a clubhouse open to the public. A landmark restaurant is planned overlooking the green space.
“It will be very interactive,” Kass said.
Continental estimates Norton Crossing will include about 50,000 square feet of offices, 25,000 square feet for retailers and restaurants and about 360 residences. No tenants have been disclosed.
The Commons at Royal Landing is expected to be torn down in the coming months, Woodruff said. The first portions of project, he said, could be completed by fall 2018.
This article originally appeared in Columbus Business First.