A new headquarters for Big Lots will be just one of several construction projects springing up just west of New Albany on roughly 300 acres near state Route 161, East Dublin-Granville Road and Hamilton Road.

Big Lots will take up residence in Hamilton Quarter, a 175-acre joint venture among three developers: the New Albany Co., Casto and the Daimler Group.

Hamilton Quarter will be adjacent to Route 161 in Columbus and is within the boundaries of Columbus City Schools.

Although the entire 300 acres of development are outside New Albany’s city limits, a southern portion near East Dublin-Granville Road is within the New Albany-Plain Local School District and will provide property taxes for it. The large-scale construction also is close enough to New Albany that residents of both the city and school district will notice the changes and might be affected by additional traffic.

Hamilton Quarter

Hamilton Quarter is planned as a mixed-use development, said Paul Ghidotti, Daimler executive vice president.

In addition to the Big Lots headquarters, which is planned to open the first quarter of 2018, Hamilton Quarter will include office, retail and hotel spaces, he said.

“The balance of the office will be driven by market demand,” Ghidotti said.

According to the Franklin County auditor’s website, Target Corp. owns 12 acres north of Route 161 at the upper half of the Hamilton Road S-curve and south of the Reserve at Preston Woods condominium complex.

Ghidotti said developers are waiting for a large retail store to commit to anchoring Hamilton Quarter.

He also said space is available for at least two hotels, and two already have expressed interest in land adjacent to the office space.

The land’s proximity to the John Glenn Columbus International Airport and Interstate 270 made it a prime spot for development, Ghidotti said. Not many tracts close to interchanges and Columbus’ central core are undeveloped, he said.

“That was what intrigued us about the site,” he said.

Ghidotti said he expects buildout to take 10 to 12 years. At that point, the market value of Hamilton Quarter could be $250 million, he estimated.

Infrastructure also is planned as a result of the commercial development, Ghidotti said. Road improvements of about $30 million are planned over the next five to six years, he said.

The roads will be funded through tax-increment-financing districts, some of which would extend to 30 years, Ghidotti said. The TIFs also would pay for the Hamilton Road S-curve built last year.

A TIF is an economic-development mechanism available to local governments to finance public-infrastructure improvements and, in certain circumstances, residential rehabilitation, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.

A TIF locks in the taxable worth of real property at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation is approved, diverting the incremental revenue from traditional property-tax-collecting entities to designated uses, such as funding the necessary improvements or infrastructure to support a new development.

Financial incentives

The city of Columbus approved two financial incentives related to Hamilton Quarter.

Columbus City Council approved a job-creation tax credit for Big Lots equal to 50 percent of the amount of new-employee city income-tax withholdings for a six-year term. The credit could yield a tax savings for Big Lots of approximately $72,187.50 over the six-year term.

Big Lots is relocating 750 full-time employees from its headquarters at 300 Phillipi Road to Hamilton Quarter, according to Columbus documents.

It plans to create five full-time positions at its headquarters with a new annual payroll of approximately $362,500.

Big Lots also will add 20 full-time positions at its distribution center, which will remain at Phillipi Road.

Columbus City Council also approved a 10-year, 100 percent property-tax abatement on real-property improvements for the new 25-acre Big Lots corporate campus, which is owned by Hamilton Crossing BL LLC.

The tax abatement could result in a tax savings for the company of $8,480,018 to $12,720,026 over the 10-year term.

Big Lots executives did not return phone calls seeking comment on the project.

Other development

The New Albany Co. is in the process of developing land south of East Dublin-Granville Road, which is within the New Albany-Plain Local School District.

Methodist ElderCare Services is building Wesley Woods, a continuing-care retirement community, along the southern portion of the Hamilton Road S-curve.

Dawn Schaffner, the company’s chief operating officer, said the community would open this summer and would be composed of eight villas for independent living, 70 residential apartments for independent living, 15 assisted-living apartments, 20 memory-care apartments and 16 skilled-nursing apartments.

Tom Rubey, development director for the New Albany Co., said the company owned the 32 acres on which Wesley Woods is being built.

The company sold 9.45 acres to the west of Wesley Woods to Five14 Church, he said.

The New Albany Co. still owns 46 acres immediately north and south of the southern portion of the Hamilton Road S-curve. Rubey said the land is zoned for commercial and retail uses.

“We’re marketing it,” he said.

By Sarah Sole
From This Week Community News