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Thurber Village: The 21st Century Urban Mixed-Use Center

The Casto project in Columbus is a modern example of how to blend a town center into an urban setting.
Thurber Village is under construction in Columbus, close to the Ohio State University campus.

In the early 2000s my company, Casto, a fully integrated real estate organization, bought a five-acre neighborhood center in the Harrison West neighborhood of Columbus, adjacent to Victorian Village and the Short North. It was one of the best sites in the city--tree-lined avenues and classic Victorian homes nestled close to the campus of Ohio State University and immediately adjacent to Columbus’ central business district and the expanding Arena District.

The center Casto bought was a conventional set-up, anchored by a supermarket and a CVS drug store, with a surface parking lot between the storefronts and Neil Avenue, the main arterial serving the property. When the grocery user left the site, Casto leadership had a vision to densify the site by adding multifamily residential component to the site while relocating the retail presence to the Neil Avenue frontage to transform it into a mixed-use center with an urban flair.

Grocery was the most sought-after use in dialogue with the surrounding community. But how do you do that and still end up with a modern, urban mixed-use project on a city block? Also complicating that challenge was the relocation of a busy CVS store from an in-line presence to a hard corner with a drive-through that was internal to the site. Additionally, the inline CVS had to stay open while construction commenced on the new CVS building, parking structure, multi-family units and the new Lucky’s Market.

Our solution was a re-imagining of the parking lot. We’re using landscaping to hide it from view without blocking visibility for the retailers by screening the conventional surface lot desired by the retailers to keep the visual focus on the Lucky’s Market, CVS, and apartments ringing the project. Cars entering the site to pick up prescriptions at CVS will do so on the internal side of the CVS building, rendering the drive through virtually unnoticed by passersby.

We believe that when this project opens with a 21,000-sq.-ft. Lucky’s Market, a 13,000-sq.-ft. CVS, and 225 apartments, it will serve as a shining example of how to blend a modern town center into an urban setting while incorporating conventional elements for the retail to maximize functionality.

Eric Leibowitz is VP of development and leasing at Columbus-based Casto.

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