Mall wants additional 25th Street access to attract tenant

Staff Reports

FairOaks Mall owners want the city to allow another access into the mall parking lot at Hawcreek Avenue and 25th Street, which could appeal to a potential tenant considering becoming the facility’s next anchor store.

Columbus Plan Commission members will hear the request at 4 p.m. Wednesday at a meeting at Columbus City Hall council chambers, 123 Washington St.

Mall officials are talking to two to three prospective tenants interested in filling the empty space formerly occupied by J.C. Penney, said Kim Showalter, manager of FairOaks Mall.

J.C. Penney announced in March it would liquidate its inventory and close, one of 138 stores nationwide which were dropped from the chain. The store anchor space has been vacant since July.

Showalter said filling the space which is just under 35,000-square-feet remains an important priority.

“Any discussion we have with prospective tenants we take seriously,” she said. “When you lose an anchor store, you try to do everything to get it replaced.”

The request to allow an entrance at Hawcreek Avenue, which currently dead-ends at 25th Street, was made by Jake Fitzsimmons, a land surveyor with Strand Associates, Inc., Columbus, on the mall’s behalf.

The commission is being asked to revise a preliminary plat to remove a “no access notation” for the intersection and allow the mall to open up traffic directly across 25th Street at Hawcreek Avenue.

The intersection has a traffic signal now, and the city engineering department said it does not have an issue with the “no access notation” being removed and the additional approach into the mall being added.

The city’s staff report on the request said the original need for the no access designation was to force traffic to the existing light at 25th Street and Herman Darlage Drive, before the Hawcreek traffic light was installed. With both traffic lights in place, the “no access notation” isn’t necessary, according to the city.

Motorists seeking to enter or exit the mall property now can do so further west of the intersection on 25th Street, or off of Herman Darlage Drive. The entrance to the mall off Herman Darlage Drive goes into a parking area used by shoppers at Dunham Sports, an anchor store that opened in the former Kmart location in May 2015.

One possible complication will be the need for a variance request to allow the new Hawcreek Avenue mall entrance to be closer than allowed to the Herman Darlage Drive intersection along 25th Street, city officials said. Columbus’ zoning ordinance requires 400 feet of separation between driveways such as the mall access and the next intersection.

Based on the request, the Hawcreek Avenue entrance and traffic light would be only have 150 feet of separation from Herman Darlage Drive intersection and traffic light.

If you go

What: Columbus Redevelopment Commission meeting

When: 4 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Columbus City Hall council chambers, 123 Washington St.