The two areas begin to blend as the space between them is in the midst of development projects.

The two areas begin to blend as the space between them is in the midst of development projects.

When Columbus real estate developer John Royer led the purchase of 1398 N. High St. 20 years ago, the area just south of Ohio State University had all of the appeal of the rundown South Campus strip of bars with none of the panache of the burgeoning Short North arts and entertainment district to the south.

But that stretch of N. High Street roughly between 5th and 11th avenues in the last decade has become a focal point of redevelopment following the demolition of the dingy campus bars and as the Short North continued to shake off its own down-and-out history.

The transitional corridor has become, in its own right, an attractive urban residential and commercial community binding the campus and Short North.

"We've been in that neighborhood for a long time," says Royer,president of the Kohr Royer Griffith commercial real estate brokerage, development and property management company, "and have seen the transitions and great strides in redevelopment. … I have watched High Street blossom."

Until this last fall, the property at 7th and High had served as a Dollar Tree discount store after decades as a SupeRx and, for a short time afterward, a CVS pharmacy.

Royer a couple of years ago tapped Chicago-based student housing developer C&A Ventures as a partner to build out 154 housing units on five floors over 16,000 square feet of retail and 162 slots of underground parking. The existing building was slated for demolition in mid-December with construction of the mixed-use project dubbed Uncommon Columbus slated for completion in mid-2018.

That marks just the latest in a string of projects spurred in part by the South Campus Gateway residential, retail and office development that OSU's Campus Partners' nonprofit affiliate opened in the fall 2005 on the site of long-since shuttered bars and substandard housing.

Immediately south of that mixed-use project, Edwards Communities Development Co. last April delivered 259 apartments-70 percent of those one-bedroom units-near older residential properties just a few doors east of High that Campus Partners had assembled over several years to spur further development. The private-sector developer has targeted young professionals such as those at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center as well as graduate students for that One Pearl Place apartment project between E. 8th and 9th avenues.

By next August, Edwards expects to have the Highline at Nine-a student housing project offering 480 beds spread among 144 units-ready to rent to Ohio State upper classmen. That complex of four levels of housing above retail already has Chumley's bar, which now operates at another Edwards redevelopment effort at High between E. 16th and 17th avenues, as the first tenant committed to a portion of 22,000 square feet on the Highline's ground floor.

"We think that's a key corner between the South Campus and Short North," says Ryan Szymanski, Edwards Communities' president. "It'll take on a whole new life; there's a lot of good vibe there."

Two other Columbus developers-Skip Weiler of the Robert Weiler Co. and David Ruma of DCR Commercial Development-have their own plans across N. High from the Highline on the site of a Taco Bell at 1525 N. High. That project consists of 95 apartments with 147 beds and 7,000 square feet of street-level retail space. The six-story project is significantly smaller than the 123 apartments and 156 beds originally proposed in July 2015 when the project first sought zoning approvals. Taco Bell will reopen in a portion of the retail space.

"Ohio State's growing so it's a strong market," says Weiler, who serves as president of the third-generation commercial real estate development, investment and brokerage firm that also owns 230 older apartment units nearby on W. 9th. "Not every kid can afford the $1,000 per month (for the new apartments)," Weiler says, "but there are a lot of kids who can."

That project gets under construction by early January with expectations of delivery in mid-2018.

Like Szymanski, Weiler cites the proximity of the South Campus Gateway, Wexner Medical Center and the Moritz College of Law as market drivers for the housing push on High. "It's in the heart of it," Weiler says of the project's location. "There's no better place for the student and young professional."

Stretchingthe Short North

Not all of the development has spread south from the OSU campus. For example, Columbus developer Don DeVere and some partners about 10 years ago began planning redevelopment of a parking lot at the north edge of the Short North at 1254-60 N. High St. DeVere's Smith Place & N. High St. residential and retail project sits near the foundation of the northernmost Short North arch. "There was an inevitability of the Short North extending into the South Campus given what had happened (there) in the last 25 years," DeVere says.

That solidifying Short North market led DeVere and frequent partner Rick Day of the Day Companies to also carve out six second-story apartments in a former warehouse at 1288 N. High St., two properties north of the Smith & High project. The warehouse project, completed a few years after Smith & High, attracted an interior design firm and the North High Brewery on the ground level soon after Kroger Co. rebuilt its grocery store at E. 7th Avenue and High. "We were definitely pioneers there," DeVere says.

The pace of development along High north of E. 7th/King Avenue continues to pick up. The Columbus Metropolitan Library expects to finish construction of its new $11.4 million Northside branch in mid-February. That 25,000-square-foot structure is more than three times the size of the library that once stood on the same site. The library, says Keith Myers, OSU's vice president of physical planning and real estate, "is another nice connection."

"All these (projects) go in waves," says Myers, who oversees Campus Partners' off-campus work as well on on-campus planning for OSU. The current surge of residential and commercial development "speaks to the desirability of the area and the university," he says.

That redevelopment phase may wane with fewer properties to renovate or build upon. The NBBJ design firm in November presented an initial concept for an eight-story hotel on the site of the Village Idiot bar and Daredevil Dogs hot dog stand at the southwest corner of N. High Street and W. 8th Avenue before the University Area Review Board zoning panel.

Wayne Garland, owner of Buckeye Real Estate, says all of the residential development will change the student housing market even as Ohio State requires its sophomores to remain on campus, especially when coupled with projects Edwards Communities, Celmark Development and others have completed or have in the works for the central and north campus submarkets.

"There's just so much more supply," says Garland, whose company owns and manages about 1,000 units in the campus area. It also is renovating student housing behind the Weiler/Ruma development and a neighboring property for its offices. "You don't want to see the market go so soft."

Still, those older properties that don't stay as housing for students could allow for more owner-occupants and professionals to move in. "With all of those rooftops going in," Garland says, "everyone will want to go to a neighborhood with bars and retailers not just catering to students."

Brian Ball is a freelance writer.