In a semi-regular series, I will be attempting to answer questions or provide information based on popular searches on the site. In today’s addition, I will talk retail. I get a lot of searches for Columbus-area malls and shopping. I had to think about the best way to tackle this, because Columbus has so much retail- it’s considered to be one of the best cities per-capita for shopping.
Here is just a straight list of some of the major centers with all information I could find, as well as a Google Map location.
Major Malls Eastland Mall
Opened: 1968 (Renovation 2003)
Address: 2740 Eastland Mall Site B, Columbus 43232
Hours: M-S: 10AM-9PM Sunday: 12PM-6PM
# of Retail Stores: 74
# of Restaurants/Eateries/Grocery: 6
Mall Website: www.eastlandmall.com
Easton Town Center
Opened: 1999 (Expansions in 2001, 2013 and 2014)
Address: 160 Easton Town Center, Columbus 43219
Hours: M-T: 10AM-9PM F-S: 10AM-10PM Sunday: 12PM-6PM
# of Retail Stores: 164
# of Restaurants/Eateries/Grocery: 56
Mall Website: www.eastontowncenter.com
The Mall at Tuttle Crossing
Address: 5043 Tuttle Crossing Blvd, Dublin 43016
Hours: M-S: 10AM-9PM Sunday: 11AM-6PM
# of Retail Stores: 125+
# of Restaurants/Eateries/Grocery: 20+
Mall Website: www.simon.com/mall/the-mall-at-tuttle-crossing
Polaris Fashion Place
Opened: 2001 (Expansions/Renovations in 2008 and 2015)
Address: 1500 Polaris Parkway, Columbus 43240
Hours: M-T: 10AM-9PM F-S: 10AM-9:30PM Sunday: 12PM-6PM
# of Retail Stores: 200
# of Restaurants/Eateries/Grocery: 20
Mall Website: www.polarisfashionplace.com
Minor Malls/Retail Centers Great Southern Shopping Center
Address: 3747 S. High Street, Columbus 43207
# of Retail Stores: 55
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/nydnI
Lennox Town Center
Address: 1755 Olentangy River Road
Phone: 1-877-225-5337 (Management Company)
# or Retail Stores: 15
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/NNMsE
Northern Lights Shopping Center
Address: 3349-3561 Cleveland Avenue, Columbus 43224
Phone: 1-866-352-6468 (Management Company)
# of Retail Stores: 80
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/XeK1o
The Shops at Worthington Place
Address: 7227 N. High Street, Worthington 43085
Hours: M-S: 10AM-8PM Sunday: 12PM-5PM
# of Retail Stores: 25+
# of Restaurants/Eateries/Grocery: 8
Town & Country Shopping Center
Address: 3772 E. Broad Street, Columbus 43213
# of Retail Stores: 55
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/170yI
Columbus and the shopping center have been together for a long time, and there is a strong argument that the city has had them longer than anywhere else in America. Even today, retail is a powerful player in the city’s economic and social picture.
As the automobile began to grow in use and importance, the concept of shopping changed. Previously, stores had been set up right against the sidewalk or street and customers would walk or find some other way to reach it. When the automobile came about, on-street parking was added. This was soon deemed insufficient for the steadily growing number of drivers, and developers and engineers began to think of new shopping experiences to adapt to this changing environment.
Don M. Casto Sr, in 1928, the year he opened the nation’s first strip shopping center.
One of the first major changes to come about was the strip center. Prolific in every suburb in America today, the strip center got its start in Columbus. The first one was developed in Grandview Heights and named the Grandview Avenue Shopping Center (also known as the Grandview Avenue Bank Block). Opening in 1928, the center included 30 shops and incorporated parking spaces for up to 400 cars, one of the first major retail developments to design for cars. It was also the first regional shopping center and the first to have more than one national grocer (it had 4). The opening was a big deal at the time. There was a parade that featured child actors from the “Our Gang” films (Alfalfa, Spanky, etc), a street fair and musical acts. It was, of course, an instant success, and copies began to sprout around the city, and eventually, the nation. The center was built by Don Casto Sr., and Casto Construction still is a Columbus entity, recently announcing a local HQ move to the Bicentennial Plaza building Downtown. The Bank Block also still exists, and although not functioning today exclusively as it was designed (it is now mixed-use), it is on the National Historic Register and continues to be a part of the Grandview Heights landscape.
The 1928 Bank Block at 1269 Grandview Avenue. The parking lot is directly behind the building.
During the 1930s and 1940s, as suburban strip centers expanded and prospered, another idea began to emerge: The suburban shopping center. They were to be larger in scale than any strip center so far, with many stores, abundant parking and perhaps entertainment venues. Don Casto Sr., once again, took the lead. He proposed a new center at 3772 E. Broad Street, ironically, in order to relieve traffic congestion of shoppers in the Downtown area. Town & Country Shopping Center in Whitehall, was the result, opening in 1949. It was still strip-style, but much larger and with the parking lot set in front of the buildings. This became the dominant layout of all strip centers (and all retail development of any kind) for much of the next 60 years. Today, Town & Country has been renovated and reworked several times over, and shows little sign of its age.
Town & Country Shopping Center in 1976.
Town & County in July, 2009.
Casto followed up Town & Country with a string of new strip shopping centers that included Northern Lights Shopping Center on the North Side (1954), Great Western in Hilltop (1955), Graceland Shopping Center at 5155 N. High Street (1955) and Great Southern Shopper’s City on S. High Street (1957). Most of these new centers also featured some type of local attraction. At Great Southern, there was a Pan American flag display, while at Great Western, there was the famous Walk O’ Wonders, where a large section of the parking lot featured scale models of the world’s major architectural and natural wonders, such as the Great Pyramids of Giza and Niagara Falls. Today, all of these centers still exist, though none of them are particularly popular. Most of them now have low-end retail or non-retail establishments, victims of the shopping mall.
Niagara Falls at the Walk O’ Wonders at Great Western Shopping Center. The attraction lasted about a decade.
By the 1960s, the regional shopping mall was the next big idea in retail, and malls were sprouting up all over the country. Columbus was no exception to this trend. Columbus’ first major mall was Northland, which opened on August 13, 1964. Built for a modest $11 million, the enclosed mall featured 43 stores and 4,500 parking spaces. It was soon to be followed by Eastland Mall in February 1968 and Westland Mall in February 1969. The Westland Mall site was already a retail destination, having the first Lazarus branch store in the nation, opening in 1962. The mall was also built as an open-air shopping plaza, a very early version of the Easton Town Center concept, but the design proved unpopular, especially in bad weather months, and the mall was enclosed in 1982. The last retail destination was The Continent. Opening in 1973, The Continent was an open-air shopping center that featured European-style architecture and walkways that resembled the cobblestone alleys of Europe. As of today, only Eastland still functions as a full mall. Northland closed in 2002 and was demolished in 2004. The site is being redeveloped into a mixed-use site with offices, restaurants and small-scale retail. Westland still has a few stores, but the main mall section is now closed. The new Hollywood Casino opened in October 2012 across the street, and plans for the mall’s redevelopment are in the works. These plans are expected to be announced sometime this year, perhaps in the spring, although the owners have said it will likely not be a mall any longer and that the building itself may not remain. As far as The Continent goes, many of the stores began to move out in the 1980s and today the area is a collection of motels, low-end retail and not much else.
The Continent in 1976.
Westland Mall under construction in 1968.
A photo of Westland Mall in its post-crowd days. This photo could’ve just as easily been taken at Northland by the time it closed.
Why did these malls fail? Pretty simple really… too much competition. This brings us to the the later arrivals on the retail scene. First up, was City Center. This mall was conceived as the savior of Downtown, to pull in shoppers from the suburbs and bring back traffic to the area. This $100 million, 100+ store enclosed mall was completed in 1989. For awhile, it did function as a destination mall, but also pulled business from Northland, Westland and Eastland malls, though it did not kill them.
City Center’s Grand Opening, August 18, 1989
Three new suburban shopping malls opened between 1997 and 2001: Tuttle Crossing, Easton Town Center and Polaris Fashion Place. Each was a bigger blow to the traffic at the older malls, and one by one most of them perished. Eastland was the only survivor, and only because it was the furthest away from the new destinations.
Tuttle Crossing was completed in 1997 with 150 stores. A traditional enclosed mall, this 2-floor building has been largely successful and has remained busy through its lifespan so far. The future of the enclosed mall, however, is not as bright.
Tuttle Crossing Mall’s main entrance.
Easton Town Center opened in 1999. The nearly $1 billion retail center brought back the open-air concept that had been absent in Columbus since the 1980s. However, instead of just lines of stores, the center was built as a small town, complete with streets, public plazas, landscaping and other amenities. Easton proved to be extremely popular, adding a second phase in 2001 and is currently planning a 3rd phase, perhaps for completion by 2014. As it stands now, there are already over 200 stores, a 30-screen movie theater and dozens of restaurants. Easton’s design was hailed as innovative and revolutionary to the mall concept, and has since been copied around the nation, much like Don Casto’s early strip centers.
Easton Town Center’s small town-like streets.
Polaris Fashion Place was the last major retail center to be built in Columbus, a $200 million 200-store enclosed mall in the southern part of Delaware County just west of I-71. It was the largest mall in Central Ohio and one of the largest in the state. It introduced the Columbus market to new stores like Lord & Taylor and Sak’s Fifth Avenue, and Polaris was considered to be the high end fashion destination for the area at the time. Development around the mall has since exploded, requiring the construction of two exits to be built off of 71 to handle the traffic levels.
So what is the future of these most recent places? City Center is, of course, gone. The mall was demolished in 2010 and the site converted to Columbus Commons Park. Tuttle Crossing and Polaris are still popular, but enclosed malls are increasingly falling out of favor. No new ones have been built in the US since 2006, and there may not be another built anywhere for a long time to come. Retail has evolved from just mere shopping to an overall experience. In that sense, Easton looks to have the brightest future of the bunch, so long as it can keep updating itself in the way it has for the past 14 years. Polaris may be the most in trouble of the bunch. A recent proposal by the Ohio Department of Transportation is to rebuild the 36/37 interchange in Delaware County. Along with this rebuild, retail is being proposed for the site. This retail may include one, or perhaps two, outlet malls similar to the one in Jeffersonville, about an hour southwest of Columbus. If these get built, the cycle that killed off Westland, Northland and City Center may be repeated. Customers are likely to get pulled from Polaris to this new development unless Polaris can update itself in the way Easton has. It remains to be seen. Studies have suggested that Columbus cannot absorb much more retail, even as a growing city, so the construction of more large-scale retail is bound to have ripple effects across the metro area. In future posts, I want to highlight some of these retail places a bit more, especially City Center and its ultimate demise. Until then, happy shopping!
Like most cities, shopping in Columbus prior to 1950 was almost exclusively a function of Downtown. This was for the simple reason that widespread suburbs did not exist yet and Downtown was the heart of the city, where almost everyone lived and worked, and therefore did all of their shopping there as well. Most of this shopping occurred in family owned shops and small marketplaces, but as the city grew, the need for larger centers of commerce began to rise. Beginning in 1849 and continuing through early 1850, Central Market was built at S. 4th and E. Town Streets. Opening on June 1, 1850, Central Market was designed to be an economic center for the city, but also served as City Hall from May 1851 until 3/28/1872 when the new City Hall opened.
Central Market C. 1860-1880
Central Market was a very popular market for decades, and at its height, attracted some 20,000 shoppers during weekend days. Its success allowed for the creation of other, smaller markets nearby. East Market was located at the intersection of Mt Vernon and Miami Avenues in the King-Lincoln neighbrohood. West Market was located on S. Gift Street in Franklinton. North Market, the last to be built, was finished in 1876 and located at the intersection of Spruce and N. Hight Streets.
Original North Market: 1876-1948
As time passed, each of these markets succumbed, most notably through fire. East and West Markets were gone by the 1940s, and North Market, too, burned to the ground in February 1948. Central Market was spared fire and significant alteration, existing almost exactly as it was built through the entirety of its lifetime. It also continued to serve as a marketplace, albeit with steadily declining traffic, through the 1950s. Its future, however, was doomed. With no widespread preservation groups at the time and with the push for Urban Renewal, a historic relic like Central Market had no chance. So, in June 1966, Central Market was demolished to make way for a new Greyhound Bus terminal, an exceedingly ugly building built in the brutalist style that was popular during the time.
Central Market during demolition, June 1966
North Market’s replacement did survive somewhat, but was in pretty bad shape by the 1980s. In 1988, the North Market Development Authority was formed to bring the old market back to life. Unfortunately, the old building was not feasible to reuse as the market.
The 1948 North Market building’s entrance on Spruce Street in 1990. Not exactly inviting.
In 1992, Nationwide Insurance sold the NMDA a former warehouse just to the west of the original location. A $5 million renovation of the warehouse was completed and the new North Market opened in November 1995. Today, North Market remains a very popular destination and has played a role in the area’s revitalization, especially along Park Street, which has become a popular spot for new bars and restaurants. It has become a strong incubator for area small businesses and helped launch concepts such as Jeni’s Ice Creams.
North Market, 1998.
Although much has been lost to time, markets are now returning as an important part of urban life. With North Market’s success and a now increasing population in the Downtown area, a need for the market has returned. A Hills Market grocery store is now in the works at Grant Avenue and should be opening within the next month or two. While lacking the scale and nature of 19th century marketplaces, it will serve new generations of Downtown residents who are helping to bring back this urban neighborhood.
Easton Town Center
Easton Town Center was in the planning stages as far back as 1990. The area where Easton would be built was mostly undeveloped land at the southwest corner of Morse Road and I-270. Les Wexner of Limited Brands fame imagined a large mixed-use development for the 1,300 acre site, to be anchored by a central retail complex. Some of the intial designs resembled more traditional malls, but as planning evolved, the retail complex emerged as an outdoor town-center style shopping experience. While some parts of the large site were developed as early as 1996, such as Easton Market, Phase I of the town center most recognized as simply “Easton”, did not open until 1999, with Phase II opening in 2001. Easton Town Center was eventually nationally recognized for its design and has since been copied around the nation. Today, Easton remains successful and continues to evolve and grow with new shops and fashion names.
Easton Town Center Stats
Start of Construction: 1997
Current Status: Under Construction
Cost (1999-Present): $1.0-$1.3 Billion
In this aerial, the land that will become Easton is mostly farmland and scattered buildings.
Easton aerial in 2002. This shows the explosion of development at the site, with the Town Center in the center of the image. The 270 Easton exit ramp has also been constructed.
The area has filled in a bit more in this 2011 aerial. Phase III is supposed to be built on the northeast corner.
Fenlon Square Expansion
Fenlon Square was recently completed on the northwestern side of the main Easton Town Center complex. Aimed to be Easton’s most family-oriented area, Fenlon Square includes several new stores such as doll-crazed American Girl and a new concept Build-a-Bear. Other tenants include clothing stores C. Wonder, Children’s Place, Flip Flop Shops, Hot Mama and Stride Rite Shoes. Food stores/retail include Le Chocoholique and Fuzziwigs Candy Factory.
Easton Gateway, or Phase III…
Easton Gateway, or Phase III, will be built on a 54-acre site just south of 161 to the east of the main complex. The Gateway will add 542,054 square feet of new retail space and parking for nearly 3,000 vehicles. Some tenants include REI, the outdoor store, and Costco. Construction will begin later this year and be completed in 2014.
Polaris Fashion Place
The rush to the suburbs had been going on for the better part of 60 years by the late 1990s, and seemed to show no real signs of ending. Although the 1990s had been somewhat of an improvement over previous decades for cities and urban life, suburbia was still by far the expected destination for most. Sprawl had exploded during the 1990s and most suburbs had experiened record growth. Southern Delaware county, especially, saw massive building as the population there climbed quickly. Polaris Fashion Place was built to take advantage of the suburban trends. Built largely on farmland, Polaris was to be one of the largest malls in the state and offer high-end fashion names like Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue. Planning began in the mid-1990s and construction began in 1999, finishing up in 2001…and just in time. Polaris is one of the last enclosed malls built in the entire United States, as they quickly fell out of favor once the town-center concept, like Easton, became popular. Malls, and retail in general, also suffered from the double recessions during the 2000s. Polaris itself continues to be a popular mall, and development in the area, while not quite at the same pace, has continued.
Polaris Fashion Place Stats
Start of Construction: 1999
Current Status: Complete
Cost: $200 Million
# of Stores: 200
From this 1995 aerial, the Polaris site is just one big farm. I-71 is on the right, but otherwise there are almost no roads through the area.
Fast forward to 2002 and suddenly the farms are gone. A new exit off 71 is Polaris Parkway.
The Polaris area has continued to add new development through this 2011 aerial.