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CATEGORY: PressREGION: MidwestPROPERTY: Northland PlazaPOSTED ON: October, 18 2007

When Northland Plaza was sold at the end of last year, the New York company that bought it said the goal was to have the plaza filled within six months.

With only a handful of storefronts in the plaza full and a lack of communication from the building’s owners, Northland officials are growing concerned about the plaza’s future.

"They initially, at least, had some pretty ambitious plans," Northland Community Council president Dave Paul said, but he said little has been heard since from the owners, New York-based Nassimi Corp.

Mike Nassimi, president of the real estate company, said Tuesday the corporation has not given up its efforts at the plaza, but finding new tenants for the plaza’s anchors and shops is a time-consuming process.

Nassimi said the company is working on a few different concepts for the plaza and working on bringing in large and small tenants.

"We don’t have any final, definite plans yet," he said. "We want to reposition it and bring new tenants in."

Located at the corner of state Route 161 and Cleveland Avenue, the plaza has an important role in establishing Northland’s image, Paul said.

"It’s a pretty key piece of property as far as the 161 corridor’s concerned," he said. "It’s kind of a gateway to the Northland area from the east. It kind of sets the tone."

Dave Cooper, vice president of the Northland Area Business Association and chairman of the Northland Alliance and the state Route 161 Task Force, said a mostly vacant plaza is cause for concern among the area’s business community.

"The more vacant properties there are in the area, the more it leads to crime," Cooper said. "It tends to invite vandalism and things like that."

Cooper said the business community would like to have an open conversation with the property’s owner but acknowledges that that’s difficult because they’re not located in Columbus.

"Because they aren’t resident owners, that’s hard to do, but that invitation is certainly extended," Cooper said.

Paul said the NCC isn’t spearheading efforts to open communication with the property owners, but the council does plan to stay involved in what’s going on at the site.

Paul said the Northland Plaza isn’t the only shopping center whose vacancies cause concern, and it’s important that the NCC stays involved in the area’s commercial vitality because of the impact it has on residents.

"The commercial districts and the residential districts are very tightly woven," Paul said. "It’s hard to separate the two in some cases."

Cooper said the business community would like to see the plaza revitalized or repurposed because business leaders believe it has the potential to attract shoppers to Northland as it once did.

"We think it’s a good property," Cooper said. "We’d like to see it bustling once again as it used to."

Nassimi said the company, which owns four other shopping centers and one office building in Ohio, hopes to have more finite plans for the plaza in the near future.

"We hope in the next few months we’ll be able to say some more on it," Nassimi said.

Related Link: ThisWeek Community Newspaper

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