Schimmer asks why not Westland for new outlet mall?

on Friday, 25 January 2013.

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Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Department Director Jim Schimmer wants outlet mall developers to look closer to Columbus.

Schimmer wants Westland for new outlet center

The director of the Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Department wants developers looking to build retail outlet centers in Columbus to consider Westland Mall or another urban site for their projects.

Jim Schimmer laments that three developers have chosen “green grass” sites several miles outside the Interstate 270 loop for prospective outlet centers, perpetuating urban sprawl in an era of urban redevelopment. Two development groups identified sites at the Route 36/37 interchange on Interstate 71 and a third has shown interest in the Beech Road exit on the Route 161 expressway in Licking County.

“Why doesn’t Westland remain viable for another retail use?” Schimmer asks, noting Penn National Gaming Inc. spent $400 million to build the Hollywood Casino across Georgesville Road from the 860,000-square-foot retail complex that was constructed in 1969.

Westland Mall owner Plaza Properties Inc., he said, hosted an unidentified Texas developer interested in that site for an outlet center, but that prospect has since moved on.

Westland not only has a high-traffic destination neighbor in the casino, Schimmer said, but it is on a bus route so workers and shoppers could easily reach it.

“I don’t quite get everyone in Central Ohio traveling to New Albany to shop for bargains,” he said.

Brian R. Ball