COLUMBUS – New apartments, a restaurant, a Hampton Inn, and new businesses could all be up and running, where the old Walmart sits, by the Summer of 2019
The Columbus City Council approved the first phase of a redevelopment plan, for the chunk of land that currently plays host to an empty parking lot and the old Walmart building.
WHO Development member Mike Works spoke at the meeting Monday evening, and said they currently have signed deals with both an organization to build a 3 to 4 story apartment complex, as well as a signed deal to build a hotel. Works says the hotel will most likely be a Hampton Inn, and would not be a convention center.
“The Walmart building is probably the most interesting part. We’re going to tear down a small piece of it, but most of it’s going to stay. We’ve got two users for it, that we think, they’re not inked yet, but we think it’s going to happen. One will be a big retail user, the other will be indoor storage,” says Works.
Works says they are currently working to make deals with banks, restaurants, or retailers to fill the two commercial spaces on the south side of the lot, with direct access to 23rd Street.
Works says, “We’re not building any spec space. Every one of these items that were building, the hotel, the apartments, the retail space, the restaurant, all of that would be built for a specific tenant, and built to their specs. We’re not going to build anything that we’re going to let sit empty and hope to get someone to come into.”
This project will have to be approved in phases by the city council, and will need to meet certain guidelines in order to be completed, but Works says they are planning to start construction in late summer/early spring, and want to have the project completed entirely by the summer of 2019.
“What I’m hearing is nothing but excitement. Some great questions were asked tonight that needed to get clarified. I’m sure there’s a few people that aren’t totally satisfied with all of the answers, and I’m not sure were going to get all of those answers until things really start to happen,” says Mayor Jim Bulkley.
The plan approved on Monday covered aspects of the plan in more general terms, that would be specified as the plan moves into further phases, said Attorney Michael Sands, who is working as special TIFF council on the project.
Bulkley says, “You don’t want to have something built that sits empty. So it is nice to think that they are going to get a few things done, and have somebody occupying it right away. And I think as that developer mentioned, the sooner he can make that all happen, the quicker he wants it to happen.”
Works says he has also talked with officials at Super Saver, who are voicing their support for the project, and have said they plan to move forward with renovating and updating their current facilities.
Kenneth Lemke, an investor in Ramada Columbus and River’s Edge Convention Center, voiced concern at the meeting, about a cost-benefit analysis’ being done to evaluate the impact on employees and business around Columbus. The plan states that an analysis targeting that issue, will be completed.
David Bell also spoke at the meeting to voice his support for the project.
The council approved the motion unanimously.