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North Market Future: What to expect from tower development

J.R. McMillan

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On a long enough timeline, everything this side of the Atlantic seems shiny and new by relative comparison. Public markets elsewhere in the world mostly measure their history in centuries instead of decades. And even their more recent descendants, like London’s Camden Market, feature more than 1,000 vendors and top 100,000 visitors on an average weekend.

But is authenticity lost in all that bustle? Can you really claim to be local if you practically require your own zip code?

That’s the inherent challenge in preserving and expanding any public market, keeping things literally and figuratively fresh without losing the culture and community that customers have come to expect. And that’s why planning for the new North Market Tower has generated both anticipation and apprehension in a neighborhood that’s seen a lot of change lately, not all of it welcome.

“I grew up in Columbus until I was 18, so I remember the Quonset hut. When I moved back, we were in this building. I started coming here a lot just like when I was a kid,” recalled Rick Harrison Wolfe, Executive Director of the North Market. Despite zero nonprofit experience, it was his vision of the future that earned him the position from among more than 400 applicants for the role. “Expansion wasn’t part of my presentation, but it was already on my mind. The more I considered the space and the experience, I knew there were opportunities that could only come with growth, and there was nowhere to go but up.”

A rendering of the proposed North Market Tower Courtesy of NBBJ

Wolfe’s résumé is revealing and rolling, following a career in fashion that took him from Chicago to San Francisco and Los Angeles before heading back to Columbus. Upon returning to his hometown, and a brief reinvention in the local food truck scene, his retail insights and close-to-the-bricks work ethic comfortably converged in the food-centric destination constantly adapting to new trends and tastes.

“When you look back to the original market of the late 1800s, it’s where people came for provisions, for everything. The North Market at the turn of the century had a quiltmaker and a blacksmith. It reflected the role of public markets of the era,” he explained. “I think we need to think about the other types of retail we can bring in. I love that we focus on food, and complements for food. It says on our door that we’re, ‘local, fresh, authentic.’ There are a lot of businesses in Columbus that are local, fresh, and authentic that aren’t just food.”

Beyond the expansion of vendor space, the mix of offices, residences, and a hotel—with parking to support all of them—is enough public space to present and restore enumerable opportunities. A vital public market requires ongoing change, but that constant churn can be unnerving for patrons and prospective tenants. When square footage is always scarce, something has to go to make room for something new. Space that became home to a highly-popular purveyor of poultry used to serve as a quirky catering and event location. I actually have friends who were married there, and now when folks see their wedding photos, everyone asks why they decided to exchange vows at Hot Chicken Takeover. Wolfe knew capacity and critical mass would always be at odds without a radical solution that created both.

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“Density and flexibility, having people who live and work in North Market Tower, is crucial for our merchants and our future. You have to evolve to remain relevant,” he noted, explaining that earlier designs have changed, but still reflect the original priorities. “Projects like these always evolve, and should, just like the market itself. A rendering is just a rendering until it’s a reality.”

Wolfe’s earlier career has also had a more subtle hand in the growth of the North Market, particularly the travel it afforded and his experiences with public markets in the US and abroad. California-inspired elements from Oxbow Public Market in Napa and Grand Central Market in Los Angeles, which has seen a similar resurgence in recent years, have been given a Midwest makeover that suits Central Ohio.

“I used to travel to Barcelona twice a year, which has one of the strongest public market systems in the world. With 35 markets, anywhere in Barcelona is only a 15-minute walk from the nearest public market,” he explained. “I’ve been to Borough Market in London, which is more than 1,000 years old, and it’s still where you get the best taste of the city.”

In fact, the North Market is for many visitors their first taste of our city as well, conveniently located across the street from the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Recent attendees from the American Society of Association Executives selected Columbus for their annual conference for several reasons. But the Short North, and the North Market in particular, make quite a first impression on guests from across the country. It’s why Joe DeLoss, founder of Hot Chicken Takeover, calls the North Market, “the front door to Columbus.” Those fond memories may mean millions. Experience Columbus predicts if even a fraction of those organizations represented by ASAE bring their own conferences to Central Ohio, it could create half a billion dollars in local economic impact over the next decade.

“Deals like this between the city and developers are always a negotiation. But Columbus included us in those conversations. We were always in the room, and that doesn’t happen everywhere,” he explained. “You’re going to laugh when I say I got more than I wanted in this project, but it’s true.”

Though talk of the North Market Tower seemed to go silent for nearly a year after it was formally announced, much of that was to accommodate the mandate that the market remain open for the duration of construction. Ongoing development throughout the Short North—from streetscape, sidewalks, and parking improvements—have had their share of fierce critics and retail casualties. The current plan includes 28 stories and a budget approaching $200 million. Even amid a project this complex, Wolfe remains committed to an orderly transition instead of avoidable disruption.

“The cost and construction of the building we’re in right now wasn’t a safe bet at the time either. It was a long shot. There isn’t a public market project like this anywhere in the world, and there hasn’t been an expansion of a public market in the U.S. this big in the past 50 years,” Wolfe noted. “But when you look at projects like the riverfront now, people ask why we didn’t do this years ago. I hope when this project is complete and people see and experience the evolution, they say the same about the North Market.”

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Food & Drink

See what “big changes” are coming to The Market Italian Village

Regina Fox

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Fans of The Market Italian Village certainly aren't enjoying this temporary closure while it undergoes renovations, but the restaurant promises the wait will be worth it.

The neighborhood restaurant recently announced in a release "big changes" coming to the space to create more "experienced-based dining."

"We’ve teamed up with incredible designers, architects, and artists to give our space a beautiful update and we can’t keep our mouths shut about it any longer!" wrote The Market Italian Village on Facebook.

The Market is currently closed and will reopen to guests the weekend after Thanksgiving with two very special additions:

  • Columbus’ FIRST chef's table - A unique experience to get up close and personal with one of the city’s most unique chefs, Tyler Minnis. The reservation-based tasting counter seats four and will face toward the kitchen, giving guests direct access to Chef Tyler throughout the dining experience as he creates a four-course tasting menu. Available for $50-60 per person on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Community Table Seating - Perfect for group dining, this intimate booth is reservations-only for large parties, seating up to 16 guests. Those seated at the community table will order from a pre-set family-style menu, pre-determined by Chef Tyler on a monthly basis.

The post went on to say the restaurant "just scratched the surface" of its announcements.

https://www.facebook.com/MarketItalianVillage/posts/2719875781402957:0

The Market Italian Village is located at 1022 Summit St. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates.

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Food & Drink

Too Good To Eat: SuperChef’s stuffed Scriddle Pancakes

@findyourfork

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Pancake my eyes off you, sweet cakes, cause no one stacks up to you.

Feast your eyes on the thickest thiccest pancakes that Columbus has to offer. SuperChef Ohio serves up these jumbo stacks of comfort in style, by combining the culinary flavors of savory and sweet—essentially, the best of both worlds.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BuRtmUYAMhu/?igshid=19h0q3u82h40e

Stuffed to the brim with scrambled eggs, deliciously sweet candied bacon, and house-made sausage all covered up in warm maple syrup, these cakes are not to be missed.

Picture this: four of the thiccest, fluffiest, and softest pancakes stacked one on top of each other with hot maple syrup cascading down the sides.

Grab that knife in your hand and take that first slice down all four pancakes all at once. Watch as the warmth from the layered cakes is released, and along with it all the combined flavors of sweet and salty bacon and sausage.

Shove a generous helping of the cakes into your mouth and close your eyes. Feel instantly comforted by the penultimate flavors of breakfast all in one bite.

Take a big swig of coffee (or milk, whatever suits you) and prepare for another bite of breakfast dream come true. Fancy yourself a one-stop-shop for all your breakfast needs? SuperChef Ohio has got you covered.

SuperChefs has locations in Downtown and Gahanna. Visit mysuperchefs.com for more information.

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Food & Drink

5 tasty merchants announced for North Market Dublin

Regina Fox

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You now have five more reasons to be excited for Dublin's North Market with its recent announcement of merchants. North Market veterans and newbies alike are coming together for the first phase of committed businesses for the Bridge Park public market.

Momo Ghar, Dough Mama, Market Bar, Coastal Local Seafood, and The Dublin Farmer's Daughter will occupy five of the 19 stalls.

“Like we have done for 143 years at our downtown location, we are successfully curating the best-in-class fresh meats, seafood, bakery, and produce categories for the Bridge Park facility that will provide a unique experience for visitors,” said North Market Executive Director Rick Harrison Wolfe.

In case you're not hip to the dynamite dumplings, Momo Ghar will be opening a third location inside North Market Bridge Park. As Food & Wine so affectionately wrote, “Once you try this food, you will never have any problem finding your way back here.”

Dough Mama is yet another Central Ohio favorite, serving "stick-to-your-bones" comfort food with a twist, according to the website. Guests can enjoy homemade biscuits, sandwiches, soups, desserts, pastries, and more.

Market Bar will be quenching the adult thirsts of North Market Bridge Park goers with a variety of craft beer and fine wines to go. This concept is owned by Pete Volker and Wayne Lin.

Central Ohio seafood distributor Ian Holmes, owner of Coastal Local Seafood, will bring his expertise to the North Market Bridge Park merchant community. Upon opening their first retail shop at North Market Bridge Park, Coastal Local Seafood will be able to provide the same wonderful seafood ingredients for home chefs and will also serve on-site menu items such as lobster rolls and crab cakes. Dublin residents and guests can look forward to enjoying fresh oysters at the New England-themed raw bar.

The Dublin Farmer's Daughter is a new concept from the owners of Copia Farm, partners Caitlin Bergman and Dan McLeod. This venture will focus on the highest quality ingredients sourced from our farm and other local farms said Bergman in a release.

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