At his 30th town meeting, State Representative Dan Stewart (D-25), announced to an excited audience that developers are looking at the land where Westland Mall is located.
“They’ve expressed a desire to make it into a Lennox type place,” said Stewart, adding that some of the stores being discussed for the area include Menards and Old Navy.
“I think that those places would work well in the area,” said Stewart, “We also deserve places that we can shop.”
Stewart has previously said that he would like to turn the property into a workforce development center, partnering with Columbus State Community College, Columbus City Schools and South-Western City Schools.
“I’d still like to take advantage of the workforce development center,” said Stewart, noting that if the Westland Mall property is used for something else, the Great Western Shopping Center would also be an adequate space for the project.
Stewart also announced that two coffee shops are possibly coming to West Broad Street, although neither shop has been confirmed.
One coffee shop considering a location on the Westside is Starbucks, which, according to Stewart, would be located in the new strip mall on West Broad Street, close to the former Delphi plant.
Also, a business owner preparing to open a tattoo parlor on West Broad is considering opening a coffee shop as well, according to Stewart.
Stewart assured residents that he has been hard at work trying to bring new businesses and restaurants into the area, explaining that he doesn’t feel the area is properly suited for the more popular chain restaurants that are “popping up everywhere,” but instead would benefit from smaller, independently owned restaurants.
“I think this area would support that type of place,” said Stewart. “The market studies have shown that we have the money to spend, and hey – we’ve got to eat!”
Stewart went on to explain the importance of finding business properly suited for the area.
“I want family businesses back on the Westside,” he said. “We don’t need museums, we’re not fancy. I just want a place where I can get a hamburger.”
He also noted that as gas prices go up, people begin to look for places closer to home to frequent.
“We’re going to see a re-emergence of inner-city living,” said Stewart. “To do that, you’ve got to have places to shop and places to eat. We can do it.”
Stewart also announced the return of long-lost Hilltop tradition, the Hilltop Parade.
The Hilltop Parade took place in the fall each year, at the height of election season, bringing elected officials and political candidates into the Hilltop. The parade was followed by a gathering at Westgate Park, giving them a chance to speak with residents.
The last parade took place “either in 1999 or 2000,” according to Stewart, mostly due to lack of funding.
In order to resurrect the parade, Stewart, along with several other local officials, contributed money from their own pockets to the cause. With the bulk of the funding already collected, Stewart is confident that they can close the gap and the parade will happen this year.
“Let’s bring in the elected officials and let them see what we need. Let’s recognize the Hilltop for what it is and take part in our own renaissance,” said Stewart.
A date for the parade has not yet been determined, although Stewart has said that it will more than likely be in September, and will fall on a Saturday or a Sunday when no other major events are scheduled.
“We don’t want to get into a situation where we are competing to get people to come here for our parade,” he said.