Canal Winchester’s business districts are evolving


By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Canal Winchester’s commercial corridors continue to evolve as businesses move in and out of the Gender Road area and the city’s downtown.

Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire said the major phases of development on Gender Road coincided with the development of two major shopping centers—Winchester Square anchored by Kroger and Home Depot; and Waterloo Crossing anchored by Wal-Mart.

“The development of these two shopping centers has attracted and continues to attract a number of retailers, restaurants and service providers to this area of the city,” said Haire.

While Discount Tire recently shuttered its doors after less than four years and Staples is closing at the end of April, the more than 725,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space in the Gender Road corridor in Canal Winchester still has an occupancy rate over 95 percent.

“Prior to these closings the occupancy rate was more than 98 percent, which shows that there is a strong demand for space in the corridor,” said Haire.

In Canal Winchester’s downtown commercial district, while Haire does not have exact statistics on the occupancy rate, he said the percentage is very high. As of April 8, there were only four vacant spaces.

“A total of less than 6,000 square feet is currently vacant,” Haire said. “Thankfully, there are no problem properties that are extremely hard to keep occupied. When spaces become available, they typically lease quickly.

Haire said there is always turnover in businesses, typically more in the downtown district since it focuses more on independent retailers.

“I wouldn’t say that the rate of business changing in either district is out of the ordinary,” said Haire. “Leasing activity remains strong in both areas. As spaces become available there is often interest from new businesses seeking to serve customers in the area.”

According to Haire, the occupancy rate in the Columbus area as a whole was 93.2 percent as of the end of 2015, with the Southeast portion of Franklin County at nearly 89 percent according to Colliers International’s Columbus Retail report for the fourth quarter of 2015.

“Therefore, the retail area of Canal Winchester is performing much better than the Columbus region and specifically our area of the county,” said Haire.

Gone from the Gender Road area are Blockbuster, Butch’s Italian Café, Curves, Discount Tire, First Choice Haircutters, Quizno’s, RadioShack and Stebe’s Automotive. The majority of the closings were due to either a corporate parent company deciding to cease operations or to eliminate a large number of stores.

In the downtown area, Bolenbaugh’s Hardware, Cest Si Bon, Simply Local, 27 West & Co., Dragonfly Candle Co., Falcon Technologies, Thrifty Chic, Paradise Froyo, and Good Nursing Care shut their doors.

In most cases, other businesses moved in vacant storefronts or built new structures, such as Goodwill, Panera and Chipotle. The Gender Road area inventory added Columbus Candle Company, JSB Home Solutions, Dental Care of Winchester, Farmers Insurance, Jimmy John’s, Winchester Vapor Station, Massey’s Pizza, Oakview Dermatology, Cloud Stop, Penn Station, Imperative Self Defense, Great Clips and Primrose School.

“There are a number of other companies currently evaluating leasing space or building new space within the Gender Road corridor,” said Haire.

Downtown welcomed a Columbus Metro Library Branch, Insurance Advisors Group, Jillian Renee Photography, Erica Manning Photography, Keystone Property Management, Wagon Wheel Wines, Lynch Financial Advisors, Legacy Church offices, Associates Title, Taylored Fitness, Revolution Realty, McDorman Automotive Museum, Sticks and Stones Studio, 27 West & Co. Simply Local, Thrifty Chic, HER Realtors, Blevins Chiropractic and Old School Chiropractic.

Canal Winchester City Council recently passed ordinances establishing Community Entertainment Districts for the Gender and Diley road areas, which lowers a barrier to entry for new restaurants. There are currently no available liquor licenses within Canal Winchester. Creating these districts will allow new permits to be issued.

“Profit margins are high on alcoholic beverages for restaurants and I have heard from many restaurants both large and small that without a liquor license their business cannot succeed,” said Haire. “The districts were not created for any one restaurant that wanted to be in Canal Winchester, but more as an economic development tool to make Canal Winchester more attractive for restaurant development.”

Haire said he will market the availability of liquor permits to restaurants and let building owners with space for lease within the community entertainment district know a liquor permit would be available.

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