How can new commercial development be successful when there is already so many vacant store spaces in the area?Today, parts of the Bridge Street District are characterized by several large-scale, car-centric shopping centers – several of which are aging and at times struggle to attract and keep major tenants. At the same time, these sites offer important redevelopment opportunities to the Bridge Street District to be reborn as vibrant centers of mixed-use activity, with residential development incorporated to help support new commercial uses. The key difference between the older, car-centric shopping centers and the new development envisioned for the Bridge Street District is what surrounds it. Rather than being isolated and almost completely dependent on the automobile, residents, visitors, employees, and others can easily and conveniently access many different uses and services by bicycle or on foot.
This was backed up by the market analyses conducted for the Bridge Street District that demonstrated a healthy demand for walkable, mixed-use development. The analysis discovered enough untapped retail spending to support a regional destination-retail center integrated with housing and employment in the Bridge Street District, along with additional demand for commercial development in other portions of the District.
Dublin’s retail market area of metropolitan Columbus (defined as the ten-minute driving radius around the Bridge Street District) has the region’s highest retail spending potential (approximately $2 billion) based on average annual household income in the entire region. However, Dublin and the surrounding area captures only a small portion of that retail spending potential. Dublin can recapture more of this local spending potential through the creation of vibrant, walkable, mixed-use development that can be differentiated from the car-centric single-use development that exists in most other areas of Dublin.
Of particular concern was the potential effect that new commercial development could have on Historic Dublin. But given the unique culture surrounding the Historic District, the small, locally owned businesses and restaurants will continue to thrive as people still have the desire for the village character Historic Dublin provides.
Places that encourage people to stroll, window shop, and take more notice of their surroundings will be much more successful in places like Historic Dublin and the entire Bridge Street District.
How much commercial development (retail, restaurant, etc.) is envisioned for the Bridge Street District?
Existing Commercial Development
There is about 2.1 million square feet of retail development in the Bridge Street District today. This includes all of the non-office commercial space in the district, such as the Dublin Village Center, the Bridge Pointe shopping center, and the Shoppes at River Ridge (all of which have experienced higher vacancy rates). Other centers, such as the Kroger Center on Bridge Street, have maintained higher occupancies over the years.
Commercial Development Opportunities
The future retail capacity of the District will be substantially influenced by the nature of the future redevelopment at the Dublin Village Center, where a significant opportunity exists (because of its size and regional accessibility) for the types of higher density mixed-use development envisioned for this area. Other areas with increased potential for significant commercial development include the area around the SR161/Riverside Drive intersection and sites adjacent to the Historic District. There may be future retail opportunities on the OCLC site, if OCLC chooses to pursue redevelopment on its expansive office campus.
Market Demand Projections
Although very preliminary, development capacity numbers were developed by the City’s consultant team, Goody Clancy & Associates and W-ZHA, for the Bridge Street District Vision Report. This projection included demand for between 495,000 to 824,000 square feet of new walkable/mixed-use retail over 20 years, with potential for an additional demand for 247,000 to 412,000 square feet at total build-out. This is a modest increase over the current retail space inventory, even with much more housing added to this District.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that the consultant team did not believe there was a demand for anywhere near this level of additional retail if it were developed in more typical, drivable, strip commercial pattern, like most of the current product.
As part of their initial commercial market demand analysis, W-ZHA studied the market for retail in the study area, finding that Dublin’s retail market area, which is defined as the ten-minute driving radius around the Bridge Street District, has the region’s highest retail spending potential—$2 billion—based on average annual household income in the entire region. However, Dublin and the immediate vicinity currently capture only a small portion of this potential. W-ZHA believes that Dublin has the opportunity to recapture more local spending by creating at least one mixed-use area in the Bridge Street District that can serve as a regional center for destination retail and complementary uses.
It is W-ZHA’s opinion that the Bridge Street District could readily support between 300,000 and 450,000 square feet of retail, cinema, restaurant, and related services, as well as substantial residential and office components, satisfying demand for approximately 10 years. The success of this district would depend on excellent visibility, access from I-270 and, more importantly, creation of a highly walkable, critical mass of mixed retail, housing, and office uses that from the start distinguish the Bridge Street District from other retail offerings in the region.
W-ZHA also notes that the quality and character of a retail and entertainment district must respond to the unique demographics of the 10-minute-drive market area, in which more than 70% of households have no children at home and 50% of households are under age 55 without children. Retail offerings—in terms of choices, quality, and setting—must specifically appeal to these demographics to fully achieve the benefits to quality of life and economic development.
Build-out Capacity Projections
With a slightly different time horizon, the 35-year development program used for the City’s fiscal analysis for the Bridge Street District projected a net increase of 936,000 square feet of retail above the current amount of retail (for a total of approximately 3.04 million square feet of retail development at build-out).
Since significant portions of the demand for new mixed-use retail development will likely occur on existing older retail centers, which will remove some or all of the current outdated strip centers when/if the owners choose to redevelop, the net increase in retail space will probably be less dramatic.
For example, the conceptual Bridge Park mixed-use development proposed on the east side of the river at the site of the existing Bridge Pointe shopping center included about 92,000 square feet of new retail space, with over half of the space intended for restaurants. Redevelopment would include replacement of the existing 78,000-square-foot Bridge Pointe shopping center currently accounted for in the 2.1 million square feet of retail space that exists today.
Long-Term Market Demand Projections
Over the long term, retail demand will grow at substantially lower rates because a substantial part of the market-demand potential in the short term involves recapturing a retail market that is currently satisfied elsewhere in the region in places like Easton and the Short North. Incremental growth of residential and office space in the Bridge Street District will form the customer base required for additional retail opportunities.
In all scenarios, from a market feasibility perspective, retail development in the Bridge Street District should be targeted in locations where it is most likely to be successful, such as areas with a critical mass or variety of retail uses in walkable areas that are easily accessible to residents and employees of nearby businesses.
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