In 2007, Glimcher began to plan a $52.8 million, 155,000-square-foot outdoor lifestyle redevelopment at the already successful Polaris Fashion Place in Columbus, Ohio. The space became available when Federated bought The May Company and its Kaufmann’s stores. Glimcher chose to use the Kaufmann’s space to add retail, restaurant, entertainment and leisure offerings.

It had three goals. Glimcher wanted to accommodate several tenants that had expressed a desire to come to the Columbus market. It wished to compress the construction timeline and its associated costs and to minimize the disruption to existing tenants. And the firm had the desire to create a sense of place—a destination that would be attractive to both retailers and shoppers.

The project was not without its challenges. Early on, the development and design team, which included ka architects, had to complete a structural re-evaluation of the structure. The majority of the structure that would be re-used required reinforcement and modification of beams, columns, and foundation systems based upon the new loading requirements and the expanded and altered footprint of the center.

There were also constraints with regard to the existing grade of the site surrounding the building, which had second-level entrances on one side of the building and first-level entrances on the other. By re-using the existing infrastructure on the north half of the building, Glimcher was able to eliminate the extensive grading, shoring, and other site work that would be required if the entire building had been completely torn down.

Glimcher was able to reuse architectural elements on the north façade, such as an entry archway that now serves as the origin of a grand staircase leading down to additional retail spaces. The loading dock and freight elevator were retained, leading to substantial cost savings as well as retaining their functionality throughout construction.

Reusing existing steel, concrete, and brick reduced the amount of new materials required. The existing roof structure, by remaining intact, enabled construction to continue throughout the winter. The electrical room was also retained, allowing utility distribution through the space earlier than normal ground-up construction would allow.

With this redevelopment Glimcher has been able to create the sense of place the community desired: a key component of the redevelopment is a plaza area, the focal point of which is an interactive fountain and seating area that serves as a gathering area, leisure place, a space for performances, and a play area for children during the warmer months.

The mall, originally opened in 2001, generates more than $400 per square foot in sales. The new expansion, which provided an opportunity to accommodate the waiting list of retailers who desired a presence in the center, is expected to net additional sales of approximately $50 million annually.

Project Name: Polaris Fashion Place Lifestyle Center
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Square Footage: 155,000 square feet
Architects: ka architecture
Owner: Glimcher Realty Trust
General Contractor: Whiting Turner Contracting