South Campus Gateway struggling to keep tenants

Tim Feran, The Columbus Dispatch

August 28, 2014

A "one-of-a-kind" World of Beer tavern will open in the spring at the South Campus Gateway as part of an effort to resuscitate the area adjacent to the Ohio State University campus.

Campus Gateway is in the middle of its second biggest retail turnover since opening in 2005. Much of the turnover involves the alley between 9th and 11th avenues, a pedestrian-only area that has been blamed for the demise of several businesses.

The alley's lack of visibility and exposure to street traffic means that businesses in it typically have to work much harder to attract customers, said retail analyst Chris Boring, principal of Boulevard Strategies.

World of Beer's local franchisee New Tap Gateway has been working with the nonprofit redevelopment corporation Campus Partners during the past several months to revamp the struggling area. World of Beer Franchising Inc. and New Tap Gateway have signed a 10-year lease with Campus Partners to develop the tavern, at 1566 N. High St.

The new tavern will feature a patio and outdoor beer garden that will dominate the South Campus Gateway alley.

At 4,500 square feet, the beer garden will be bigger than the 4,113-square-foot tavern itself.

The beer garden "will be a game-changer," said Mark Pottschmidt, a partner in New Tap Gateway.

The plan would "transform the existing pedestrian walkway into a social meeting place where you can enjoy craft beers from World of Beer and food offerings from many of the Gateway restaurants," Pottschmidt said.

Boring praised the beer garden plan.

"This might be a way to correct that mistake," he said. "It's a really good idea. It's a way to use a space that had almost become unleasable. It's a smart move."

Campus Partners will address the alley's other issue - lack of visibility - by installing a large video board on High Street along the development.

"Once the beer garden is basically brought out to High Street and the video board is installed, everyone will know where World of Beer is located," Pottschmidt said. "We expect to benefit from the area's extensive foot and street traffic as the revitalization of the University District continues."

In addition to World of Beer, the district will have another new tenant next year: CampusParc, which manages Ohio State University parking.

CampusParc will relocate its main offices from Ohio State's Bevis Hall to a two-story site in South Campus Gateway early in 2015, with a retail customer-service center on the first floor.

Other tenants that have recently moved to Campus Gateway are Devoted, an apparel store that carries Ohio-made and Ohio-themed clothing, accessories and decor, which opened in April; and the Oxley Tavern & Grillery, a sports-themed bar and grill that opened in June.

The new tenants replace five tenants that have moved out: Finish Line, Ohio Art League, Gooeyz Grilled Cheese, Charlie Bear: Land of Dance and Kildare's Irish Pub.

South Campus Gateway is the most visible project of Campus Partners, the nonprofit redevelopment corporation that Ohio State and the city of Columbus created in 1995 to reinvigorate the University District.

The World of Beer tavern will be the Florida-based chain's third Columbus location, joining sites in the Brewery District and Easton. World of Beer, which has 60 locations in 19 states, offers more than 500 varieties of craft beer in bottles along with an extensive array of draft beer.