Retail planned for vacant lot in Clintonville
A long-vacant site on North High Street in the heart of Columbus’ Clintonville neighborhood might be home to new retailers, based on a development plan and building permit application filed with the city.
Black Gate Partners, based in Columbus, bought the half-acre site in December. According to its application, the company plans to build
a one-story, 7,700-squarefoot building with three retail storefronts for $1.5 million.
The site at 3373-3383 N. High St., between West North Broadway and Brighton Road, has been vacant since 2010, when the Clintonville Electric and 83-year-old Clinton Theater buildings were demolished, leaving a gap in the streetscape of the bustling neighborhood.
Since then, residents and businesspeople have been anxiously awaiting what was next for that space. In 2015, Northstar Realty proposed a five-story building featuring apartments and stores. But the community pushed back, with many saying the building was too tall and out of character for the neighborhood. That project died.
Micha Bitton of Black Gate Partners declined to talk about the project, saying it would be another week or two before he was ready to do so.
The developers have discussed their general plans with Clintonville area commissioners, including Khara Nemitz, who represents the area that includes the site. Nemitz said Bitton approached her several months ago to get a sense of what the neighborhood wanted there.
“Clintonville can be known for being anti-development. That’s not true. They want thoughtful development — development that fits in with the community,” Nemitz said.
The commissioner, a Brighton Road resident, said the site is now a big empty field that no one can use. “It’s really
frustrating,” she said. “The community is excited to have something filling that space.”
Another Brighton Road resident, Marilee Crofts, said she opposed the earlier Northstar proposal. “I didn’t mind that it was vacant,” she said of the site, adding that she wouldn’t mind it staying that way. She just doesn’t want a drive-through drugstore or an all-night convenience store there.
Jenny Smith, president of the Clintonville Chamber of Commerce, said she believes residents will be excited they can walk to businesses. “Most of our community would like to see something there,” she said.
The city’s Department of Building and Zoning Services has not yet approved the site plan. The owners still need to submit a stormwater management plan.
Lou Slowek owns the Curiousity Shop next door to the site. Black Gate bought his building as well, and he plans to stay. Slowek, who has run his vintage jewelry business for 14 years, said business actually picked up for him since the buildings were demolished more than eight years ago.
“We had people say, ‘We didn’t even know you were here.’ They’d see the empty building and drive on,” Slowek said.
“It’s a shame they tore down the theater,” he added. “I hoped to see something like a performing arts theater.”