Those who live and work in and around North Olmsted boast of its amazing amenities. Within just under 12 square miles, residents and visitors are connected to any type of service they could need or want.
North Olmsted’s reputation as a desirable destination to conduct business continues to garner the attention of national retailers and investors. During the fourth quarter of 2021, Bridge33 Capital, a commercial real estate investment firm in Seattle, Washington, purchased Great Northern Plazas for $63 million as part of a five-property acquisition featuring shopping centers in four other states. And the old Bed, Bath & Beyond space is being repositioned as an Amazon Fresh grocery store, bringing a new food concept to the city.
“One of the things we’ve seen nationally is that the retail market is changing. What remains true for North Olmsted is that it continues to be a strong market,” says Max Upton, the city’s economic and community development director. “It’s really interesting that the innovators and disruptors who are changing the face of retail still view North Olmsted as a geographically significant and strong real estate market.”
Part of the reason, Upton says, is that people who live, work and play in North Olmsted spend a lot on retail services.
“Per capita, we spent three times as much as the state and national average on retail goods and services,” Upton explains. “Initially, I was shocked when I saw that. But, as I dug deeper and deeper, I realized it made a lot of sense.”
Strides at Great Northern Mall
Great Northern Mall consists of 1.2 million square feet of shopping, dining and entertainment options, which include a diverse mix of more than 100 national, regional and local businesses.
Overall, malls throughout the nation are going through a period of transition, Upton says, adding that Great Northern Mall, which is at nearly 90% occupancy, is continuing to thrive due to its ability to find new uses for old spaces.
“Great Northern Mall continues to build on its rich, 46-year history and adapt to the changing needs of consumers,” says Dan Crandall, the mall’s marketing and business development manager, adding that in addition to being a popular destination with an inviting atmosphere, Great Northern Mall prides itself on its creative promotions, unique experiences and special events (Kids Club, Princess Parties, Malloween and free community yoga classes, to name a few) to further engage visitors. “Stroll through Great Northern on any given weekend, and you may find yourself in the middle of a salsa dance class, a community bingo tournament or a family story time,” Crandall says.
In addition to special events, the mall adds special touches that make people’s visits even more enjoyable. Earlier this year, it commissioned the talents of local artists to create more than 20 new pieces of public art that are on display throughout the property.
By the third quarter of 2022, Great Northern Mall had welcomed a dozen new businesses, including local kiosk tenants such as Go Games, RC Toys, Charging Cables and More and Alice’s Candy. JoJo’s Arcade and First Team Actors Studio brings Hollywood-caliber training to Northeast Ohio and adds a unique use of mall space. Meanwhile, Fiesta Grill, a new concept offering fresh Latin cuisine, opened in the food court. Before the holiday season, Kona Acupuncture and
Zebrano Furniture will open.
One of the mall’s goals to ensure its success is to continue to fill retail spaces with options that will appeal to the greater community and keep the mall relevant for the next generation of shoppers.
“We want to further entrench Great Northern into the community through special events, partnerships and charitable activities,” Crandall says. “In addition to everything happening inside the mall, it is also worth noting everything that surrounds it. Great Northern is ideally situated in the center of North Olmsted’s retail district, with its own highway exit off of Interstate 480. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is just minutes away, and a number of nearby hotels, offices and corporations contribute to the regular daytime traffic. So, whether it is a leisurely
shopping trip or a quick errand, Great Northern is a convenient place to do it all.”
As Great Northern Mall continues to experience success, the rest of the city’s business community also is booming. This year, North Olmsted welcomed a variety of new businesses, including Eagle Cabinet and Design, a kitchen remodeler; Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, offering tasty, traditional American fare; Pathway Caring for Children, which helps children and families realize the possibilities of their lives through foster care, adoption and mental health services; K9 Resorts, a luxury pet hotel; and popular fast-food establishment Arby’s.
Also new to North Olmsted is Pulp Juice & Smoothie Bar, an Ohio-based franchise that offers more than 40 smoothie blends, as well as a variety of fresh-squeezed juices, wraps, salads and more.
“My wife and I have always had a plan to open a small business in our hometown,” says Matt Rotheram, owner of the North Olmsted Pulp store. A former NFL football player, Rotheram adds that protein shakes and smoothies were a daily part of his life as a professional athlete. So, he was naturally drawn to Pulp’s fresh smoothie concept. “Pulp is a business model focused on the community. It’s a place where you can come with anyone — young children, friends, parents, grandparents, etc. I can guarantee you will find something for everyone on this diverse menu.”
Rotheram says North Olmsted is a community that needed a food/drink concept such as Pulp.
“My wife and I both grew up in North Olmsted and graduated from North
Olmsted High School,” Rotheram says. “We plan to use this business to connect with the North Olmsted community and give back to the community we love.”
In addition to new businesses, the city also is celebrating a variety of expansions for existing businesses. Earlier this year, Ashley furniture completed its expansion from 12,000 to nearly 40,000 square feet. RollHouse, formerly a bowling alley, is investing nearly $5 million to transition into an entertainment concept that will feature a private bowling suite, themed escape rooms, a patio and dining options that include burgers, wings, pizzas, ribeye bowls and more.
Although North Olmsted’s business community is thriving, Upton emphasizes the city’s urgency to maintain momentum. That includes the creation of a Community Improvement Corporation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing and promoting the economic and civic development in a community, as well as considering initiatives put into place by other cities and implementing strategies that will allow for future growth.
“We’re trying to have a relentless urgency to succeed now,” Upton says. “That’s what we’re doing every day, and we’re just getting started.”