Shopping center’s makeover nears completion, businesses anticipate economic upturn

by Evan Smith ’11

For most students, Kingsdale has always been a ghost town, plagued by empty stores and run-down alleyways. But for the past year, the shopping center has been a hub of construction, with loud bulldozers and wrecking balls tearing apart buildings and pavement.

The new Kingsdale renovation, slated for a 2011 completion, plans to bring new life to the once barren shopping center, with the goal of transforming it not only into a new center of commerce, but also a community center for the residents of Upper Arlington.

The company responsible for purchasing and outlaying the renovation plans is Continental Real Estate, the major developer of Giant Eagle store locations across the country. Successful in previous endeavors, Continental CEO Frank Kass stated in a May 5, 2009 Suburban News Publications article that the new plans will work to bring back activity in the area.

“We are very proud of what the new Kingsdale will be … an active, vibrant shopping center,” Kass said.

With the help of Continental funding, plans for new store fronts and an expanded Giant Eagle are underway. Within the past few months, a newly developed MCL Cafeteria has opened in the front of the shopping center. MCL, a longstanding restaurant and bakery in the Kingsdale Center, is one of the more drastic store renovations in the overall renovation plans.

Candace Ward, co-manager of MCL, said that hopes are high that the new Kingsdale will help bring in more business and activity.

“I think business will definitely increase,” Ward said. “There has been a lot of word-of-mouth about the new store [and the Kingsdale renovations in general], and that alone helps bring in customers.”

Ward stated that while the renovations are not only vital to help revive the shopping center, they also represent a general change that is occurring in Upper Arlington as a whole.

“Our clientele is starting to change,” Ward said. “We’re starting to see younger couples and families come in, and I think that shows how Arlington is growing. More younger families are moving in, and that moves the community forward.”

Not all are entirely pleased with the new renovation. Junior Jeff Shy, who lives near the shopping center, is worried that the new renovations will tarnish the charm and appeal of the old Kingsdale.

“What with the new, [bigger] Giant Eagle coming in, and new buildings being put up, I’m apprehensive as to how it will all turn out,” Shy said. “I liked the old Kingsdale and I don’t want it to turn into every other shopping center in Columbus.”

Shy also showed concern as to how the Kingsdale renovation will affect future students at the high school.

“For me, Kingsdale was always a place to go to hang out when there was nothing else to do, so it has a sentimental value to it,” Shy said. “I doubt I’ll be able to see it done before I graduate, but for younger kids, I hope Kingsdale doesn’t turn into just another shopping center that they pass by on the way to school.”

Despite some criticisms from the public, the renovations are in the works, with the 2011 deadline still unchanged.

Continental CEO Kass said that once completed, the new Kingsdale will fit in with the general atmosphere of Upper Arlington as a whole, and will bring new life into a once faded area.

“Cities that continually attract new residents and business do so because they are always adapting and improving,” the Upper Arlington Community Improvement Corp website states.

“[Kingsdale] is going to be basically a community center,” Kass said in an April 8 ThisWeek article. “It’s going to be .. a little bit of fashion, a little bit of food, a little bit of services, and it’s going to be very convienent to an awful lot of people.”