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Former String Shoppe getting makeover

Tyler Joswick / Asst. photo editor

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Construction on a new facility next to the Newport on High Street between 12th Avenue and 13th Avenue will be in full swing in the coming weeks.

On the site of the former String Shoppe, the construction has been underway since demolition began in the middle of December, said John Bentley, president and owner of the construction company Bentley Commercial Enterprises Inc.

The building does not yet have tenants, but discussions have started with nationally represented businesses.

“We’re looking for a retail, mix-use. Maybe a restaurant, maybe a dry goods retailer,” said Alexandra Schiff, a construction coordinator also involved in seeking tenants.

Attorney Scott Schiff purchased the property from the String Shoppe building six months ago. The business had owned the property previously for roughly 50 years, Schiff said.

According to the Franklin County Auditor’s website, the property was purchased June 30 of last year for $700,000.

The idea for the project began at the urging of Scott Schiff’s son, Zachary Schiff, a fourth-year in communication at Ohio State.

“I’ve grown up here my entire life, so I know the campus,” Zachary said.

Keeping business in the family, Zachary has been involved with the design of the building as well as hiring the architect and contractor involved in the process.

“This is going to work. It’s such a great location, it’s got to work,” Zachary said.

The Schiff family has a history of buying property along High Street in the University District. They own several locations, including the building near Lane Avenue that houses Radio Shack, Noodles & Company and UniversiTees, and the Urban Outfitters and Starbucks locations near 14th Avenue and High Street.

“We’ve got a history on High Street of taking dilapidated buildings and renovating them,” said Alexandra, Scott’s daughter.

Bentley Commercial Enterprises Inc., the contracted company, specializes in rehabilitating old buildings and retail centers in particular, Bentley said.

There have been discussions about the possibility of a bank branch opening at the construction site. The new building will most likely hold three tenants, Schiff said. The Schiffs won’t know who those tenants are until the end of March.

Although the University Area Commission has to approve the design, Bentley said, the facade of the new facility will be familiar to students.

“We’re trying to make it similar to the new student Union,” Schiff said.

The facade will have brick similar to that on the Union. For now however, it is draped with tarps, as construction has been underway for about a “week and a half,” Bentley said.

The project will take roughly 90 to 100 days, Bentley said. The winter weather puts some adverse effects on the construction workers as space heaters and tents are brought in.

“The winter time adds a little extra challenge,” Bentley said. “On average it adds about three to four weeks to a normal project.”

Once the tenants are chosen, there will be some alterations to the construction project.

Businesses in the building will be up and running by May 1, Alexandra said.

“We have a bunch of leases out right now,” Zachary said. “We’re just waiting to hear back.

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