In a departure from the norm, a national retailer that often is found in malls has chosen to set up shop in the Short North.
Anthropologie, a division of Urban Outfitters Inc., plans to open its second central Ohio store in the Joseph development — the new Pizzuti building on N. High Street.
“It’s great news for the Short North and Downtown and the whole central part of the city,” said retail analyst Chris Boring, principal of Boulevard Strategies. “It further validates the Short North as a shopping destination, particularly for fashion.”
Anthropologie was founded in 1992 in Wayne, Pa., and offers women’s clothing, accessories, gifts and home decor. The 175-store chain has four Ohio locations: one at Easton Town Center, one in Cincinnati and two in Cleveland.
“It is a reversal of the trend of retailers starting in the Short North and then going to Easton,” Boring said. “This is the first time I can think of where it’s the other way.”
The new store will be part of the Pizzuti Cos.’ $65 million mixed-use Joseph development, located along N. High Street at Russell Street.
Anthropologie is “absolutely the perfect fit for the neighborhood and for our project,” said Joel S. Pizzuti, president of the Pizzuti Cos. “Part of the goal with the Joseph project was always to have dynamic retail. Our sense was the Short North was the right place to attract an interesting national tenant, someone not seen before in the Downtown area.”
The store will occupy nearly 9,800 square feet on the first and second floors of the new 55,000-square-foot Joseph office building, which is scheduled for completion in 2014. Anthropologie officials could not be reached to comment on their choice of location.
Having a national retailer in the district is “certainly atypical for the type of retail we’ve always had in Short North,” said Duff Lindsay, owner of the Lindsay Gallery on N. High Street. “But I don’t think it’s a surprise that franchise operations are looking really hard at the area because of its success. As a retailer myself, I’m all for businesses that are going to bring more foot traffic to the neighborhood and make people think of the Short North as a viable shopping alternative.”
Anthropologie’s offerings might overlap with those of a small, independent fashion retailer such as Rowe Boutique, but its owner, Maren Roth, said she is pleased to have a new neighbor.
“As long as we do our job, I think we’ll be OK,” Roth said. “We have a really loyal clientele who are supportive of us. The more options we offer, the more people we’re going to draw.”
The office building that Anthropologie will occupy will have about 1,800 square feet of retail space remaining for another tenant, Pizzuti said. The tenant has not been identified.
Other features of the project include an upscale boutique hotel, Le Meridien Columbus, the Joseph; a 313-space parking garage adjacent to the office building; and the Pizzuti Collection, an 18,000-square-foot museum in a renovated space that houses the modern-art collection of Ron Pizzuti, founder and CEO of the Pizzuti Cos. The museum is set to open on Sept. 7.
“The Joseph is a wonderful project,” said Betsy Pandora, the new executive director of the Short North Alliance. “Anthropologie absolutely would seem to fit within the context of that project."
Although Anthropologie is a national chain — unusual for the Short North’s predominantly independent mix — it has “kind of a funky, boho vibe,” Lindsay said. “That makes sense for the neighborhood. If you told me the Gap was coming in, I’d be a little more concerned. But this fits right in.”
“It’s a great addition to the street,” Boring said. “Fashion shopping is driven by selection, so the more shops you have, the better. It’s great that the Short North is getting more retail. It’s hit the saturation point with restaurants and bars. Now it’s time to fill it in with more fashion and home shops.”