North Market expansion continues despite COVID-19 pandemic

Columbus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The investment firm looking to expand one of Columbus’ historic markets is sharing its vision for what’s next.

The North Market expansion project, announced in 2019, is still on despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jim Merkel, CEO of the investment firm Rockbridge, said it is a transformational project, which is one of the reasons why they’ve continued the work despite the pandemic.

Merkel’s vision for the North Market project aims to tie together history and new development.

“Having it survive in the future for another 145 years and beyond is really, really important and why we’re working so hard in difficult times,” he said.

New renderings of the 31-story tower have been released to the public, showing the project’s strong focus on the hospitality industry, which has been devastated by the pandemic.

“It’s about 1,600 jobs that this project will generate and over a billion dollars of economic impact,” said Merkel.

The project has made some changes when it comes to the residential side as well.

“A workforce housing piece to the project that was important to the city and we’re able to pull that off,” Merkel said. “We’re excited about that, and we also have 212 boutique hotel rooms and 170 apartments.”

Merkel says the pandemic has been difficult, but it played into the market’s character: adapting to survive.

“Merchants pulled their money together to keep it alive and build a hut there that it was housed in until where the current building was built, so those stories and that history is so special and something we think is really, really important and will be infused in our project,” he said.

The latest plan and renderings will be reviewed by the Downtown Commission and Historic Resources Commission. The goal is to break ground in the summer of 2022.

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