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Ground broken for retail complex

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A conceptual rendering of what Highland Pointe may look like when completed was revealed Feb. 12 at the groundbreaking ceremony. The complex, which will lease to both restaurants and other businesses, will be located at 2700 Alexandria Pike, across from the university.

Danielle Roberts, Staff writer

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Updated February 26, 2013:  An earlier version of this article published online stated Highland Heights mayor as Scott Coleman. The mayor of Highland Heights, Ky. is Greg Meyers.

A crowd of a few dozen spectators gathered Feb. 12 on Alexandria Pike across from NKU to watch as three vacant houses were demolished to make way for a future retail development, called Highland Pointe.

The project is being spearheaded by Thompson Thrift, an Indiana-based development and construction company which purchased the 1.6 acres of land at 2700 Alexandria Pike last year.

Chris Hake, director of retail development at Thompson Thrift, delivered the first of the two speeches at the short groundbreaking ceremony which preceded the demolition. He announced that the space at Highland Pointe was already 80 percent leased, with Firehouse Subs, Pizza Hut, Ft. Thomas Jewelers and City Barbeque already signed on to become tenants.

Following Hake’s speech, Highland Heights Mayor Greg Meyers offered a few words regarding what the new retail development would mean for the city, saying that Highland Heights officials were eagerly anticipating the arrival of such a “great new retail development.” He then proceeded to lead the ceremony in a ribbon-cutting, which marked the commencement of the project.

For Thompson Thrift, obtaining property in such close proximity to NKU was a great achievement. Chris Hake explained that they had had their eyes on the land for a long time before they actually got the opportunity to claim it a year ago.

“Until now, this property has only been occupied by three homes, and we felt that wasn’t the best use for property in such a prime location,” he said. “We really wanted this spot for our retail center, because being located right across the street from a college campus creates a great dynamic for business.”

At the time that Thompson Thrift purchased the property, two of the three houses which occupied the land were already vacant. The third was home to some longtime residents, but they purchased a new house elsewhere and moved out a couple weeks before the demolition.

Kristine Davidson, founding member of Onsite Realty, is assisting Thompson Thrift with the leasing of the property. She also provides representation services for one of the development’s future tenants, City Barbeque. Davidson said that she too views the location as an optimal place to do business.

“City Barbeque has been looking to open up a location around this area for years now,” she said. “When you have a captive audience right across the street, such as a big university like NKU, then that’s a huge draw for retailers and restaurants.”

The advantages of the new retail center’s immediate closeness to campus will not only be good for the businesses which will be opening up shop there, but will be mutually beneficial for the university as well, according to Chris Cole, director of marketing and communications.

“The advancement of the city of Highland Heights and Northern Kentucky University are so intertwined, that the growth of each one is really dependent on the growth of the other,” he said. “I don’t believe that the university can ever really reach its full potential unless the area around it flourishes, and has a lot of businesses that will succeed in attracting students.”

Mope Ajao, an NKU sophomore, said the introduction of new retailers and restaurants around the school will be good for students in a number of ways.

“Not only will this provide students with more places to eat and shop, but this will open up more job opportunities in the area, and a lot of people are in need of employment that is close to school,” she said. “I think having new businesses come to Highland Heights is definitely one of the major things that’s going to help NKU.”

Highland Pointe will be over 13,000 square feet when completed. At this time, there is about 5,300 square feet still available, which is room enough for two or three additional tenants besides the four that are already on board, according to Chris Hake. He said that Thompson Thrift was in talks with a multitude of different businesses which could become a part of the plaza, but could not say which ones, as none were yet confirmed.

A conceptual rendering of what the finished project will look like was revealed at the groundbreaking ceremony. The drawing depicts a walled-in retail center containing two separate buildings, one comprised of four tenants and the other comprised of three. Construction of the center as a whole is expected to be completed by late June, but opening dates for each individual business may vary.

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Ground broken for retail complex