by Dan Rafter
Consumers don’t expect one of the top malls in the country to be in Columbus, Ohio. But that’s where the Easton Town Center mixed-use center sits.
And now the center – which attracts more than 30 million visitors each year – is getting better.
Steiner + Associates, The Georgetown Company and Limited Brands earlier this month began construction of Easton Gateway, a 54-acre addition to Easton Town Center.
“I think that the design is what makes this mixed-use center so special,” said Yaromir Steiner, chief executive officer of Steiner + Associates. “It has a sense of place. And it also has some very strong non-retail components, its restaurant and entertainment component. Its design mimics traditional urban spaces. There is parallel parking, trees, sitting areas, public areas. That makes it attractive to many people.”
The Easton Gateway addition comes nearly 15 years after the Easton Town Center opened. And it’s already attracted big-name tenants. Costco already opened its doors in September of 2013, opening a 150,000-square-foot store on a 17-acre site that the company purchased.
Other new tenants include REI, which is scheduled to open in May of 2014; Sakes Off 5th, which will open a 28,000-square-foot store in May of next year; an 80,000-square-foot Dick’s Sporting Goods to open in July of 2014; and a 45,000-square-foot Whole Foods to open in May of 2015. Field & Stream will open its first Ohio location in a 50,000-square-foot store also located in the new Easton Gateway district.
Easton Gateway is scheduled to officially open in October of 2014.
Steiner said that the expansion made sense at this time.
“The crisis is over,” Steiner said. “The tenants coming to the addition wanted to open new stores. And we can get money from the banks now. The time would have been earlier. The need was there. But the economic problems slowed everything down. Tenants would not make decisions. They are now looking to expand again. The timing simply comes down to the right market forces.”
It’s little surprise that Easton Gateway was able to attract such strong tenants. The existing Easton Town Center is already a top destination in Central Ohio, one that attracts visitors from far beyond the city of Columbus.
At the same time, Columbus itself is enjoying a steady recovery from the worst days of the recession.
“We are seeing definite signs of recovery in all commercial segments,” Steiner said. “Residential is really booming, too. Retail is healthy. Maybe office buildings are not as dynamic yet, but I’m sure it will follow. Columbus is feeling really good right now. There are ‘for hire’ signs everywhere. It’s good to see.”