Two new businesses are slated to join South Campus Gateway’s ranks, even after recent closures have left some storefronts vacant.
After at least four tenants moved out of the area within a span of 10 months, two new businesses have recently signed leases — Devoted and Oxley’s Tavern and Grillery.
Devoted, an apparel store that will sell products from local artisans and is a branch off of the same owners’ Simply Vague stores, is set to move into the space Ohio Art League previously occupied at 1552 N. High St. Oxley’s, meanwhile, is set to move into the spot Kildare’s Irish Pub once filled at 1576 N. High St., Amanda Hoffsis, president of Campus Partners for Community Urban Redevelopment, said in an email Thursday.
Campus Partners is a private nonprofit corporation that works on community planning in the Ohio State campus area alongside OSU and the city of Columbus. South Campus Gateway LLC is a subtenant of Campus Partners.
Hoffsis added those might not be the only announcements.
“We are working hard on some additional deals,” Hoffsis said.
Hoffsis said in an email Friday Devoted’s lease was signed earlier that week, about two months before it’s set to start moving into the space.
“(Devoted) will begin working on the space in early March and we anticipate a quick turnaround since the space is already so functional for them,” Hoffsis said.
Andrea Archibald is an owner of Simply Vague at the Mall at Tuttle Crossing and Polaris Fashion Place. She confirmed the new store, Devoted, is looking to move in soon after it starts work on the space.
“We’re looking at the last week of March or the first week of April, we aren’t quite sure yet,” she said. “We haven’t gotten the date that we’ll be taking possession yet.”
She said the store will focus on just one aspect of what the Simply Vague stores sell.
“Devoted is going to be just our apparel line … not all necessarily (all) Ohio-themed but that seems to be the most popular,” she said. “We’re trying to cater it to the campus area.”
Gateway seemed to be the “best fit” for Devoted after looking at several places, Archibald said, but she and her husband did talk about the recent turnover in the area.
“My husband and I both went back and forth about that and had different ideas of what that meant for us. I look at that like a benefit for us, I don’t think there’s anything that’s been like our store there before,” she said.
Archibald said while there’s no shortage of restaurants in the campus area, making it easy for students to go to places outside of Gateway to eat, that isn’t really the case with apparel stores. She said Devoted’s “stuff is creative, it’s outside the box, it’s different and it’s harder to find.”
While she didn’t give information about the rent the store is set to pay, she said compared to the rent Simply Vague pays at the malls, “it seemed pretty reasonable,” especially given the amount of traffic the area gets.
Polaris Fashion Place marketing director Angela Krumpelman said while the mall doesn’t give out information about a store’s rent publicly, rent prices are determined based on factors including the type of business, the store’s square footage and the type of products the business sells.
Peter Cooper, the manager at the Mall at Tuttle Crossing, said in an email the average rent at that mall is also considered “confidential information.”
Hoffsis said she is excited to see what Devoted brings to the South Campus area.
“They will certainly add some additional local flair to the South Campus Gateway, which is something we are striving for,” she said.
For the store to move in, though, the space’s current tenant must move out. Ohio Art League’s gallery manager Esther Hall said Thursday Ohio Art League is leaving Gateway because “the people who own our lease agreement have decided to terminate early.”
She said Ohio Art League’s lease agreement is owned by South Campus Gateway and managed by Colliers International, a real estate company.
Hall said the gallery, which has been at the Gateway since 2009 and does not pay rent because it was donated, was notified Tuesday.
“We are going to move out of this location in the beginning of March,” Hall said. “It’s unexpected … We knew that this was a donated space to us by the previous landlords, so we knew it was always a possibility.”
Hoffsis said there is a chance Ohio Art League could relocate within the Gateway area.
“We are hopeful that the Ohio Art League can take advantage of another opportunity within South Campus Gateway, but that is still being discussed,” Hoffsis said. “The Ohio Art League is a wonderful organization and brings great life and culture to the center and the broader community. We have a good relationship with them, and they are very good tenants, so we are optimistic we can continue to be a good fit for their mission.”
Meanwhile, the new restaurant set to open at Gateway, Oxley’s, finalized its lease Jan. 15, Hoffsis said.
“They are eager and excited to open, which is planned for early May at the latest,” she said. “We are very excited to have that key space back in operation. Oxley’s will be a fantastic addition to the South Campus Gateway.”
Chip Franz, an owner of Oxley’s, said he couldn’t give many details about the restaurant, bar and entertainment space yet, but he did have an approximate time frame for when the space will open.
“We are looking to open in April hopefully,” he said. “We’re going to make some big changes.”
Franz said he and the other owners chose Gateway because of its proximity to campus.
“It’s a great location and we really wanted to be on campus serving the university students,” Franz said. “It just made financial sense … (Gateway wants to) get, I think, more local business in there.”
He said, though, the fact that several other businesses recently closed in the area did come up in talks before signing the lease.
“We definitely took it into consideration. We feel like businesses fail all the time and open and close for different reasons,” he said, adding that he thinks Oxley’s will be successful anyway.
Representatives from Kildare’s did not provide comment by Sunday on the restaurant’s closure in Columbus and its former space being filled.
Hoffsis was not able to provide information about when and why Kildare’s closed or how much the new leases are worth by Sunday.
Charlie Bear: Land of Dance, Gooeyz and Finish Line, the former two of which announced their leaves via Twitter in November, have also closed their doors since the beginning of summer 2013.
Finish Line was located at 1624 N. High St. and closed Jan. 11. Two of the others relocated — Charlie Bear, a dance club, relocated to 2885 Olentangy River Road, and Gooeyz, a restaurant specializing in grilled cheese, reopened at a different location in Woodland’s Backyard at 668 Grandview Ave.
A manager at another Gateway business said it’s exciting to see new stores and restaurants moving in.
“It’s great for the Gateway, it’s good for South Campus,” said Will Brakel, general manager at Eddie George’s Grille 27, located at 1636 N. High St.
Even though Oxley’s is set to provide Gateway-goers with a new restaurant option, Brakel said he isn’t concerned.
“I don’t know much about the concept … but what we do here (at Eddie George’s) is unique,” Brakel said. “We look at businesses around us as partners, not as competitors.”
Nisha Arora, a fourth-year in biology who has lived in Gateway’s apartments since summer 2013, said she’ll be interested to check out the new businesses.
“I think it would be cool, I mean a bunch of us were really upset when Charlie Bear and Gooeyz I guess closed so having something there will help fill that void,” she said.
Arora said she doesn’t think the new stores will have a problem staying open because “Gateway’s such a high traffic area.”
The new spots might take time to win the hearts of some students, though, as Arora said she still hasn’t forgotten the places that once occupied Gateway.
“No one will be able to replace Gooeyz and Charlie Bear,” she said.