Burger chain’s big move = Opportunity

Steve’s breakdown: And we mean that literally. White Castle is moving its headquarters. They will still be in Columbus but now with visions of wonder of a better life so we think it’s a great time to congratulate them. Their creative tag line is “Bold Move” and I don’t think that’s a coincident but it doesn’t really sell.

COLUMBUS, OH: White Castle’s future headquarters is to be a sharp departure from the distinctive, porcelain-steel-style building that has been the burger chain’s home for decades.

White Castle unveiled renderings on Tuesday of its planned $65 million redevelopment of its Columbus headquarters. It shows a campus that includes a new company headquarters, a second office building and several apartment buildings on the 15-acre site.

The plans as presented to the Downtown Commission also call for a community center and a small park with amphitheater seating on the property at 555 W. Goodale St.

“Columbus has been home to White Castle for 83 years, and we couldn’t be happier to announce our recommitment,” said White Castle President and CEO Lisa Ingram.

The Columbus City Council voted a month ago to create a tax-increment financing district to benefit the project, which is to house the fast-food company’s 220 full-time workers and accommodate possible expansion. The tax deal, commonly called a TIF, would allow the company to make service payments into a fund that would pay for infrastructure for 30 years, in lieu of paying property taxes to the city during that time. Under the deal, the Columbus school district would continue to get its share of tax revenue from the property.

White Castle said in a statement that the project is contingent on final approval of incentives by JobsOhio, the state’s privatized economic-development organization.

The community center next to the new headquarters would be open for use by local nonprofit organizations, company officials told commissioners.

The new White Castle headquarters would be built first, company officials told the commission. The current headquarters is to remain in use until the new offices are ready to move into.

Other elements would be added based on market demand, White Castle representatives said. Details have not been completed for the 300 planned apartment units that are to eventually be built. The company plans to “keep a close eye on the market” to assess the mix of units and amenities that would be built, company spokesman Jamie Richardson said.

Two commissioners waxed wistful about the current White Castle headquarters, built in the 1930s in the style of its restaurants. It is to be razed as part of the project.

Commission member Robert Loversidge of Schooley Caldwell Architects urged company representatives to incorporate a reference to the classic White Castle building style in its new project, possibly by re-creating one of the company’s classic buildings next to the headquarters.

Richardson said the company plans to “give a nod” to the icons of the White Castle brand at its new campus while providing a more updated, modern work space. He said no decision had been made about whether that might include structures and memorabilia open to the public on the property.

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