Home » Opinion » Editorials » All Jokes Aside: Ohio State is turning High Street into a suburban shopping plaza

All Jokes Aside: Ohio State is turning High Street into a suburban shopping plaza

The O Patio & Pub on the corner of East 15th Avenue and North High Street will close this summer as part of ongoing University District Redevelopment. Credit: Lantern file photo

You might have noticed a sprinkle of intensive construction and small-business closures on High Street in the past few years. Well that’s no coincidence, a lot of it is the doing of Campus Partners, the “urban revitalization” fist of The Ohio State University.

Campus Partners aims to create “distinct sense of place” across Ohio State’s campus by gutting student favorites like The O Patio & Pub and Too’s Spirits Under High to make room for a number of expensive apartments, parking garages and chain stores.

Ohio State is basically claiming that another Chipotle, Starbucks and a White Castle will give High Street a “distinct sense of place.” That’s like claiming that “The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift,” “Fast & Furious” and “Fast & Furious 6” have distinct senses of cinema.  

These are just a few of the establishments that will make Ohio State’s campus Columbus’ next Tuttle Mall.

Campus Partners failed to consider students’ needs when planning High Street’s development, especially when they neglected to include a Lids where students could conveniently purchase Tap Out flatbills.

Campus Partners got the redevelopment ball rolling, and other private companies have joined in on the fun.

You might have noticed the under-construction, luxury apartment compound “Wilson Place” near Lane Avenue proudly touting its banner for $999 a month rent per person.  

However, at least on apartments.com, the current online prices for two-bedroom apartments at Wilson Place — which is owned by Edwards Communities, not Campus Partners —  start at $2,430, with an additional $125 garage parking pass. Cool.

These apartments are the perfect place for students to live after being bankrupt by Ohio State’s two-year dorm live-in requirement.

The O Patio & Pub will soon be demolished this summer for a fountain; a more wholesome environment for students to gather on weekends. So long, chants of “Let’s go to The O!”

Hello, shouts of “Let’s safely gather by the fountain!”

This new area built on the muffled shouts of fraternity revelry will be called “University Square,” a gathering space planned to be a “physical and visual link” between campus and the east side of High Street. Students should be grateful for a parking garage, a luxury apartment building and an 11-story hotel.

Construction is scheduled to finish in the early 2020s, so the next few waves of incoming freshmen will deal with perpetual construction until they graduate.

This isn’t the first time Campus Partners has created a “distinct sense of place” at Ohio State. Campus Partners signature development is the South Campus Gateway.

The construction of Gateway brought “225,000 square feet of retail, 188 apartments, 88,000 square feet of office space and a 1,200 space parking garage” to Ohio State’s students.

If you have ever been to Gateway, there’s a clear sense of campus culture with four phone stores and a Panera Bread. Everything a kid needs.

Campus Partners also has been a great friend to small businesses in the South Campus Gateway. A restaurant called Gooeyz rented a space where sewage “spilled on customers … nearly 10 times” from a bathroom in the space above.

The loving hands of Campus Partners then charged Gooeyz’s owners for being closed when they dealt with a faulty air conditioning unit, inherited from the property they leased from Campus Partners, until Gooeyz went out of business. Cool.

Campus Partners is modernizing High Street without regard for the small businesses that create campus culture, and that’s a shame for future students.


  1. What a shame. The commercial areas near universities should be accessible to students and reflective of the unique culture of that institution. In my day (many years ago), it was Bernie’s Bagels, Long’s Bookstore, numerous bars and small pizza places. I know it’s changed over time with new names and business, but this gentrification of High Street is just sad.

    • as an OSU Grad (class of 1991), i can tell you that the bars were crappy, my apartment was crappy, the streets were crappy…

      but i did have a lot of fun.

    • “…but this gentrification of High Street is just sad.” Easy to say that when you’re living out in the rich suburbs of Columbus, or in a small town in the Middle- of -Nowhere, Ohio. But try living in inner city Columbus near High Street and you’ll see that gentrification is desperately NEEDED.
      Don’t know how long ago you attended but the number of drug addicts and bums begging and smoking has greatly increased…

  2. Nice comma splice in the second sentence. I would read further if your grammar weren’t trash.

  3. I was in undergrad when CP was formed and began the South Campus Gateway project. Students were very vocally against closing the locally-owned establishments and bringing in big corporate chains. CP insisted they would move forward regardless of what students wanted. Now the Gateway has an abysmally low occupancy rate and usually looks like a ghost town. The golden rule in college-town development: “know thy customer.”

  4. Sorry you were so offended, June.. Your sense of smug has not gone unnoticed.


    • Don’t know why you’re bashing on Tom, when the university is actually at fault. They lied to us during orientation and the campus tour, and never told us about the high crime rate that this university has (Go to College Factual to see the numbers). Not too mention all those smokers, crack addicts, homeless, etc. living on High Street….
      I especially like how the university does not give any useful tips for renting apartments as an upperclassmen. It’s as if they WANT us to be approached by meth heads and mentally ill homeless while commuting to class…

  6. We have been watching this transformation of High Street with the same disgust expressed by the authors. When we went to school we could barely afford a bucket of beer at Papa Joe’s. What student can afford these ridiculous rents and expensive eateries and bars? It’s all about the almighty dollar. Shameful. Thanks for your article.

  7. Yes,,,,,, I agree,,,,,, June is a idiot!!!!

  8. As if our campus doesn’t have enough construction. I’m fortunate enough to live in the south and have visited beautiful ACC/SEC campuses with a small town feeling. OSU is a crap hole and it’s sad. Oklahoma fans asked me why so many roads were closed and why so many buildings were demolished.

  9. Jamie Bevilockway

    Looks like the good ole days have been put to rest. Some of my best memories of college were the weekends on High St drinking buckets of beer for $6 at Papa Joe’s. If not there, going across the street to Mean Mr. Mustards or Spring Break; just to name a few. Now the college kids will have to base their memories on shopping down High St. Having no money to even shop with. The Short North needed cleaned up but leave the campus area for the kids!

    • First of all, college students are not “kids.” They are simply adults who are students. Second of all, you shouldn’t have been drinking while in college. Not only is the drinking age in the state of Ohio 21, but college is for STUDYING, not for partying.

      And just for your information, the Short North was NOT cleaned up. Go down there for a visit…you’ll see what I’m talking about. The amount of homeless and drug addicts there is still the same.

  10. Intravenusdemilo

    It is a shame to see what’s happening on High St.Campus used to have a unique vibe with places like Mustards, Papa Joes and Crazy Mama’s.Now campus is as sterile as an operating room at Riverside with people operating the new stores a thousand miles away.And what student can afford that kind of rent?You don’t students will try cram 8 people in those apartments to make ends meet.

  11. Please don’t forget that the university goes around and buys out corner stores in areas like Weinland Park so they can get rid of the neighborhood hangouts for people who aren’t students. Or that they pay published Arts & Sciences professors with Phd’s $35,000 a year, while one dude at Fisher makes $600,000 to teach one class to maybe 12 Phd students. Just saying.

  12. Rest in pieces Toos. They can can take our small family business, but they’ll never be able to take the memories created in that basement. Oh and #DrinkAtThr3es ✊🏻✊🏾✊🏼✊🏿

  13. Great job on this article. Now get out and protest. Demand change. Vote in every election.

  14. Jill Gordon-Evans BA '85

    Yes Laura! Undergraduate student government needs to address this and fast. While it is admirable for USG to advocate for farm workers, and take interest in the energy contracts of OSU, the CP issue is ripe for action. I’m a 1985 graduate and parent of a current undergrad in the class of 2020. I cannot stand what CP has thus far done to campus. I too loved Bernie’s and Mustard’s. High Street needed renovation, not demolition. Look at the Short North. Why is it so popular and well liked? Because the old existing architecture was saved and restored. Also, be sure to try to save the Whispering Wall (curved steps on Wex side of University Ave. across from Oval), because CP has their eyes on the Wall/steps also from what I have read. If Buckeye Donuts is to stand a chance, USG needs to get the undergrad community on the offensive. BTW I live out of state, so cannot be on campus myself to address this.

    • It’s only popular among sorority girls and frat boys looking for alcohol, drugs, or e-cigarettes. Most civilized people, however, avoid it. The place is full of sketchy figures and homeless bums. Why do you think almost no White people (aside from the trashy ones) live there?
      And please, I doubt you “liked” those stores. It’s sad the extent to which you racist white people are politically correct.

  15. Congratulations to students who have expressed their dismay and wonder about the revitalization projects in the campus area. As a resident of Vic Village for many years, I am also watching the trend to “update” our short north area. It’s ending up to be more high end restaurants and bars and, less art studios and small shops that have always made the area what it is or was. It’s called $$$$. The big developers see those dollar signs with the help of a city who thinks 15 year tax abatements are stabilization for the future. I’m old, so I have resigned to thinking that it’s progress and, forget the good old days. But you have enlightened me.

  16. Really makes you think

    I seriously wonder what student can afford the luxury apartments. I swear they’re being built solely for the rich international students (aka Chinese).

    • Rich international students and trust fund kids who feel like the MUST live in high end apartments while in undergrad..really gets the neurons firing.

      • Really conquers my bonkers

        Just fug my shid up fam. The people staying in that new hotel will be jealous of the 4 year long vacations the kids living in the apartments are getting.

    • I was one of the first people in the Neil building when it was new…first to use the fridge in my kitchen and shower in my bathroom…it was AMAZING….but I agree… and way back in 2003, I was paying almost $6K/year to live in the dorms. It was too much to pay…and no, I didn’t request the Neil Complex, housing assigned it to me.

    • Sounds like your parents are a bunch of hillbillies from rural Ohio…Jealous that Chinese and Indian international students come from educated, old money families much more successful than yours?

  17. God bless us if they ever come for Out-R-Inn

    • JIll GE class of 85

      I was going to mention Out-R Inn, but I was trying to be concise. Very true about how expensive the new apartments are. My kid, class of 2020 is on academic scholarship tuition only, lives in Baker East and actually LOVES it. I can’t afford the new apartment rents. And I could not have paid those kind of prices while I was in school. I lived in Harrison House and 1944 Iuka Ave. I was not a scholar, just a B student.

  18. This is all part of the greater plan for OSU to own both sides of High Street. Eventually they will buy out (via Campus Partners) all of the “slum lords” and convert those rooms student housing. The ultimate goal is to make all students live in university approved housing in the university district, and then eventually force all faculty and staff into the university district as a condition of employment, turning the whole campus area into a dystopian commune. My source of this info was VP for A&P Jay Kasey during a Framework unveiling meeting about 10 years ago.

    If I were a high school student, I wouldn’t even consider OSU any longer because of the outrageous nanny state policies they have instituted for the “safety” of students.

  19. Samuel T. Cogley

    Building, building, building. Lots of ridiculously overpriced apartments and equally overpriced commercial spaces (only national chains will have the capital to open in them) that no one, save the developers and real estate types who sit on the OSU Board of Trustees, really wants. Makes one wonder what kind of sweetheart deals are being cut behind the scenes, and how much all in involved are raking in–whether the entire thing collapses or not. The Gateway has pretty much been a failure: only two bar/restaurants and the theater have survived long term: the former because of liquor sales, largely during football season, and the latter because it’s subsidized by the university. I mean, the university has taken over a fair portion of the Gateway for administrative office space (yep, always about administration nowadays). But I suppose that’s the very model of a modern major university… in some people’s eyes.

    Also, why bother building all these apartments when the university is busy slashing budgets to academic departments and programs? Who’s going to need to live in these overpriced joints when there aren’t enough classes being offered?

    But as long as the football team does well and prospective students are wowed by the amenities like RPAC, the people of Ohio will likely not do or say anything. More’s the pity.

  20. All across the country you can find chain stores in urban areas and independent businesses in suburban areas. They’re not synonymous.

    A suburban-style shopping plaza is generally a single-story car-centric retail strip with a larger-than-necessary parking lot in the front and zero walkability to anything else. What’s being built on High Street is dense, mixed-use and walkable. In other words, it’s urban by design.

    I do agree that culture and flavor is lost when independent and local businesses are replaced with chains, but this new development is not “suburban” in the least.

    • What you are saying is true but, it also points out that Columbus is still playing catch-up. After 20 years in this city, it continues to amaze me how a city this size still thinks like a big town and, is only beginning to accomplish what most major cities achieved in the 90’s.

  21. I’d like to offer a different opinion on this subject. I am a student at Ohio State and think the change on High Street is great. The new buildings look much cleaner and fresh. Just because people are willing to pay north of $1000/month for a brand new off campus apartment doesn’t mean they were forced into it. If the demand wasn’t there, developers would not be creating new housing! I live off campus for under $500/month. The demand is high for these new restaurants and stores, and there are still plenty of bars around the area. I’m proud to be a student @ OSU and I’m happy with the new developments. There seems to be so much negativity on these comments. OSU is a great place to be a student!

  22. Amanda Huginkiss

    I will be supremely saddened if Moy’s or Buckeye Donuts leaves campus. Dive bars and cheap food on campus is part of the luster of college. Luxury apartments and chain restaurants will only benefit students who have money. Which, lets be real, most students don’t have that kind of income while in school. I have spoken with many recent OSU grads, who lived on campus, and they could barely afford their homes/apartments. Even with a steady job at night and over the weekends while being a full time student.
    I personally think Campus Partners needs to listen to students and faculty. They need to keep campus beautiful and fun for all. Instead of demolishing think about what redoing an establishment would do aesthetically.

  23. Progress Steam Rolls On

    I suspect the people in the pro-development camp wear lots of white socks – which greatly reduces the chance for any mismatches! May they all be very happy with their new generic McStores.

  24. I was there the end of the 80s,beginning of the 90s,.. Mustards, Crazy Mammas, Purity Mining,…. Stringing of safety cables between the telephone poles so we didn’t stumble into traffic.. You can blame some of this on much younger than college kids, I drive my kid through an area and his teenage mind doesn’t think about not having the money to shop in the places or the fact that renting one of this apartments is unrealistic… He immediately points out how cool this “brand” is, or I”aI wanna check that place out… “… Checking a place out doesn’t pay the bills.. And hopefully anyone involved discovers that sooner than later when they decide to become part of that mess…

    • I’m from that same era Nik. A jeep cruise through that part of town on gallery hop nights reveals very little left of those days. I guess that’s what they were after. I still have part of a souvenir M bucket from Mustards from the last night it was open. Then there’s the “Beasty Brew” mug that Papa Joe’s would fill for $1. I got a couple of bricks from PJs after it mysteriously burned down in ’94, which was kind of the last nail in the coffin for the block of South Campus bars.
      My girlfriend (now wife) lived next to Pearl Alley Laundry for $350/mo in 1989-92, so I could walk to all of this.
      Check this out though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB2Z08za1vI
      Good Times.

  25. ” the current online prices for two-bedroom apartments at Wilson Place — which is owned by Edwards Communities, not Campus Partners — start at $2,430, with an additional $125 garage parking pass.” These are Los Angeles prices in poodunk Columbus, OH!!!! My husband and I live in DTLA and our 2-bdr apt is $2480/mo and mandatory $75/mo fee each for 2 parking spots. Unbelievable!!!!!!!!!

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