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Ft. Mitchell Retail Center to Get New Look, Businesses

A Ft. Mitchell retail center will soon have a fresh new look.

Zalla Companies, which owns the properties on the 300 block of Buttermilk Pike as Buttermilk Enterprises, plans a complete overhaul.

Zalla's David Heidrich appeared before the Ft. Mitchell city council on Monday night to request that a proposed zoning text amendment be sent for consideration at the Kenton County Planning Commission to allow a patio for a new high-end burger restaurant that would open there.

Heidrich noted that he has been in the business so long, that one of his first jobs was to appear before the Ft. Mitchell city council in the mid-1980s when the site was first being developed, and now he's back to re-envision it.

"We're going to keep the Graeter's, but take the strip center behind it which runs parallel and take the skin off it," he said. "It's just a dated looking skin and doesn't work for today's retailer." He said the building is currently empty as is the larger building in the back where Brown Mackie College operated. Zalla worked on terminating all the leases so that it could redevelop the site, Heidrich said.

That frees up the space for new enterprises, and Heidrich told council that the strip center could be full if all the currently interested businesses sign on.

"Retail is a changing environment. When we built that center in 1985, we had a children's store, a needlepoint store, Hallmark, a paint and decorating store. Most of these things don't even exist any longer," Heidrich said. Now, he has letters of intent with a hair salon, a fitness center, a real estate office, and a restaurant. He said a financial services group is also interested.

"If they all sign on, I'm essentially full at 22,000 square feet," Heidrich stated.

Heidrich would not say the name of the new burger restaurant that would open in the slot closest to Buttermilk Pike since the company is not yet ready to reveal its identity. The restaurant is a chain that would be new to the local market. "They'll compete more with Bonefish than Barleycorn's," Heidrich suggested. "It's that type of clientele and feel."

Zalla hopes to use a couple of parking spaces as an outdoor patio option for the new restaurant, but found a quirk in the city zoning code that allows patios in just about every zone except "limited highway service" which is where the retail strip is.

Council agreed to send the proposed text amendment to the planning commission. The issue would likely return to council for action in a couple months.

The burger place, Heidrich said, hopes to have its space ready for work by February in order to open by Derby Day, which is the first Saturday in May.

Before he left, Heidrich was thanked by Police Chief Andrew Schierberg for allowing the police and fire departments to perform training activities in the vacant structures, and Heidrich joked that the departments helped Zalla get a jumpstart on demolition.

The renderings, provided by Zalla, were created by KZF Architects. Business names in the renderings do not reflect actual business names.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

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