Graceland, one of central Ohio’s oldest shopping centers, experiences revitalization with new tenants

The Graceland Shopping Center, which has been a prominent landmark on North High Street for almost seven decades, is currently undergoing a transformation.

As the retail industry continues to transform, one of the oldest shopping centers in central Ohio is adapting by bringing in a slew of new tenants. Despite its long-standing reputation, the center understands the importance of staying relevant in today’s competitive market.

One of the alterations that have been made include:

  • T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods have jointly launched a new store, situated on the southern side of the shopping center, taking over the space once occupied by OfficeMax.
  • The Worthington Youth Boosters have secured a lease for approximately 20,000 square feet along the western perimeter of the center, adjacent to Esporta Fitness. This space will soon house a gymnastics center, set to open its doors next year. Anticipate a range of offerings, including batting cages, pre-kindergarten programs, and open gym hours.
  • Starbucks is in the final stages of completing its new establishment, located on the former grounds of the Victory Fitness Center, positioned on the northern side of Graceland.
  • Significant progress is being made in transforming the former Bob Evans restaurant at the entrance of Graceland into a LongHorn Steakhouse. This exciting addition to the dining scene is expected to welcome guests in the spring.
  • Rally House, the well-known national sports retailer, has introduced a 5,500-square-foot store on the southern side of Graceland, providing sports enthusiasts with a convenient shopping destination.
  • Boss Gal Beauty Bar is in the midst of expansion, adding more space to its boutique on the northern side of the center.
  • Exciting news for pet lovers: Mutts & Co. is set to open a new pet shop on the northwest side of the center, offering a wide range of pet-related products and services.

In recent years, Graceland has undergone a series of changes, including the introduction of new establishments such as Dad’s Coneys and Wraps, Ulta Beauty, and Graceland Flats – a 180-unit apartment complex located on the western end of Graceland that opened its doors in 2021.

According to developers and tenants, the outcome is a diverse range of stores and amenities that perfectly cater to the current needs.

Eric Leibowitz, VP of development and leasing with Casto, the owner of Graceland, commented on the diverse array of amenities present in the mixed-use community. From ample parking to grocery stores, residential areas, and restaurants, the 60-acre plot is packed with offerings. “It’s a wonderful example of a mixed-use community,” Leibowitz noted.

According to tenants, although there are still a few vacant spaces in Graceland, particularly in the northwest strip, the recent changes have actually improved the overall strength of the center.

According to Slim Khalid, a manager at longtime Graceland tenant Tobacco Discounters, the area has significantly improved in the past decade. He mentioned that there is now a noticeable increase in traffic and people from diverse backgrounds. Khalid believes that the changes have brought a positive impact on the community.

Mike Dearing, the proprietor of Dad’s Coneys and Wraps, is optimistic about the new tenants who will hopefully bring more traffic to the center. He believes that small businesses like his would benefit from improved High Street signage.

According to his statement, he believes that the recent additions are beneficial. He mentioned that their workload has increased twofold compared to last year but it still falls short of his desired level of business.

Michelle Diercks, the owner of Wine & Canvas, shares the same sentiment as she believes that Graceland was in need of a boost.

“I am thrilled to witness their move,” she exclaimed. “I strongly believe that it will attract more visitors to the center, including those who may not have considered coming before. Many of us operating small businesses within the area lack the resources for extensive marketing, hence having these prominent stores will provide us with much-needed visibility to bolster our businesses.”

Seventy Years of Transformation: Revisiting the Evolution of Time

Graceland, one of central Ohio’s oldest shopping centers, has recently undergone a series of changes. Casto, the company that opened Graceland in 1954, has a history of innovation in the industry. They are also responsible for the opening of Town & Country Shopping Center in Whitehall, which is widely recognized as one of the first modern strip centers in the country.

In the beginning, Graceland had several well-known tenants such as J.C. Penney Co., Woolco (Woolworth), Walgreens, Union Department Store, Story & Smith Furniture, and Carter Hardware and Sporting Goods. Over time, Graceland expanded and added new attractions like Graceland Lanes bowling alley and Graceland Cinema, which became famous for showing the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

As time passed, Graceland’s roster adapted to the changing trends.

Almost two decades ago, Graceland experienced a significant transformation with several major departures, such as Burlington Coat Factory, Drug Emporium, and Big Bear. The center’s revival was fueled by the opening of a new Target store and the takeover of Big Bear’s spot by Kroger Marketplace. These changes breathed new life into the center and helped it to continue thriving.

According to Kevin Logan, a resident of the area for most of his life and now an employee at Dad’s Coneys, the latest developments at the center are the most significant changes since the introduction of the Kroger Marketplace, which marked a major turning point for the area. He believes that this latest transformation is another step towards revitalizing the center and bringing it back to life.

Graceland’s ability to adapt and thrive can be attributed, in part, to its strategic location in a financially secure and bustling area of Columbus. Casto reports that over 350,000 individuals reside within a five-mile radius of Graceland, with an average household income of $92,000. Moreover, the center benefits from its close proximity to nearly 167,000 workers, who increase the daytime foot traffic for retail and dining establishments.

“Right Place, Right Time”

Leibowitz from Casto stated that the location of the property is ideal due to the nearby amenities, quality of the surrounding communities, and its close proximity to major employers such as Riverside (Methodist Hospital) and Ohio State University. It seems that the property is situated in the perfect place at the perfect time.

According to Leibowitz, the current tenant lineup has left Casto feeling “thrilled.”

According to him, the combination of prominent national tenants like Target, Kroger, T.J.Maxx, LongHorn, and Starbucks along with successful local and regional tenants such as Bibibop and Pat and Gracie’s makes for a distinctive blend. He believes that these small restaurants, in particular, contribute to the uniqueness of this mix.

At Graceland, you can pamper yourself in many ways. Whether you need a new hairdo, a manicure, or some relaxation time with a glass of wine at Wine & Canvas, Graceland has it all. You can also take care of your furry friend by bringing them to The Groomery. Moreover, Graceland offers one-stop shopping where you can work out, buy your groceries and fulfill all of your daily needs. It’s not an exaggeration to say that you could spend your entire life at Graceland.


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