When we first moved to New Albany and started driving through Gahanna on Route 62, the creekside area was an uninspired stretch of road that featured an undistinguished post office and industrial-type buildings. At some point, Gahanna decided that it could do better, and Creekside was the result. The old buildings were torn down, the creek area itself was spruced up, and attractive structures and common areas were built on the west side of Route 62, next to the creek. Both private money and public money were invested in the project.
Aesthetically, Creekside is a vast improvement. It is a mixed use development, one of those ubiquitous “Eat — Work — Live — Play” creations that were supposed to be the wave of the future. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. Only 13 of the 70 condo units at Creekside were sold. And while 75 percent of the retail space is occupied, there doesn’t seem to be much foot traffic. Now, Creekside is facing a foreclosure action, and the city of Gahanna — which owns the public portions of the development — will need to deal with that process and its fallout.
The Creekside experiment is a cautionary civic improvement tale. Creekside opened to great fanfare in May 2008; less than three years later, it is struggling to survive and needs to retool. “If you build it, they will come” is a great line in a movie script, but when it comes to development projects it isn’t always accurate.