For 30 years, A Slice of New York, formerly called Flying Pizza, has served its signature thin-crusted pies to members of the Ohio State community who have entered through the restaurant’s vibrant green-trimmed doorway. But soon, this North High Street establishment must move because the building was one of two recently sold to Campus Partners for $5.5 million.
The purchase is part of a plan to “transform” 9 acres located around the intersection of East 15th Avenue and High Street. The project was announced in February by Campus Partners, a private community planning corporation that works to revitalize OSU’s off-campus neighborhoods.
The area, which is bordered by High Street on the west, East 17th Avenue on the north, East 14th Avenue on the south and the 14th, 15th and 16th Avenue corridors east of High Street, will include a high-quality pedestrian environment and a dynamic public square framed by buildings with active first-floor uses, according to a February press release.
In May, Campus Partners received approval from the University Area Commission and the University Area Review Board for its proposed rezoning, said Campus Partners President Amanda Hoffsis. The commission is composed of University District residents, landlords and one representative each from the university, undergraduate and graduate students.
Rezoning gives planners more flexibility.
“We presented and received approval of our application from the City of Columbus Development Commission at their public meeting in June,” Hoffsis said in an email. “We received approval from the Columbus City Council … and with that vote, our rezoning was complete.”
In July, Redstone Realty Company LLC, a Campus Partners real estate subsidiary, bought the properties at 1806 and 1812–1816 N. High St. for $5.5 million, Hoffsis said.
These two buildings currently house Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Student Book Exchange and A Slice of New York.
Other businesses that are located in the proposed transformation zone include The O Patio & Pub, Jimmy John’s and Too’s Spirits Under High.
Mike Estes, manager of A Slice of New York, said the pizzeria has until the end of November in its current location at 1812 N. High St. After that, he said, the restaurant’s lease is up.
“We’re hoping to get an extension on that lease until we find a new location, but as of right now, yeah, that’s when we have to be out,” Estes said.
Estes said he is looking into alternative locations, and added that Campus Partners has offered its assistance.
“Campus Partners has been actively working with us to find a space, but finding a space that is suitable has been difficult,” he said. “People have been trying to hold onto spaces … it makes it hard for small businesses to move.”
Hoffsis said there are no concrete timelines in place, but added that the entire area will not be developed all at once. While she could not be more specific about retailing strategies for the proposed space, she said Campus Partners is “confident the area will be filled with both existing and new business that can be successful” in the campus-area market.
“We are actively working with most tenants, and each has unique needs and goals,” Hoffsis said. “Some tenants are excited to see what options may exist to stay at or close to their current location while others are viewing this as an opportunity to move their business forward in a different direction.”
For Estes, A Slice of New York’s close proximity to the students is a defining factor for his business.
“We cater to the students,” he said, adding that because A Slice of New York does not deliver, the busy times of the year are limited to three months of warm weather.
Estes said he is looking into moving to a new location at East 11th and Neil avenues.
“So many other businesses have had to relocate, and then with so much retail space being taken off campus, you know, it’s like ‘where do we relocate to?’” he said. “It’s a mystery. It’ll be different.”
Raising Cane’s did not provide a comment for this story, but signs have been posted that imply a new location is “coming soon” in the former Potbelly Sandwich Shop in the South Campus Gateway.
SBX declined to comment for this story.
Hoffsis said Campus Partners is studying the effect on traffic and the infrastructure needs apparent in the redevelopment area, which it hopes to further define in the coming months.
“Even though this concept pulls from many plans that have been developed by the community over the decades, this marks the first time in 50 years an opportunity for change of this scale has been possible and promises to make 15th and High an iconic city feature,” she said.
Michael Huson contributed to this article.