A new development will bring a new shine to the Steelton neighborhood of Columbus.
The Fort already stands as a creative beacon of hope in the South Side neighborhood of Steelton. The former factory space used to be home to The Seagrave Company, which built fire engines and ladder trucks for over six decades starting in 1892.
Five years ago, the 240,000-square-foot industrial space was acquired by Justin McAllister, the owner and president of Fortner Upholstery. Known now as The Fort, the former factory is now home to furniture makers, photographers, coffee roasters, and more. It’s a truly special place, and I can say that with some authority, considering we had an office there for a time!
Now, the developers of The Fort will expand that creative dream to the 36 acres surrounding the Fort. Steelton Village will include residential options, entertainment, arts, and dining options.
The dynamic duo behind the project is Justin McAllister and Kyle Katz. The two were introduced by John Mally of NAI Ohio Equities and both are excited for the city to approve the new development.
Katz and McAllister have engaged MKSK to show off their plan to repurpose the historic warehouses and brick-paved alleyways, as well as add over 1,000 residences to the space across South High Street.
“Steelton was Columbus’ furnace and forge as the city helped industrialize America over a century ago. There were pillars of fire here that burned 24 hours a day year-round,” Katz said.
“Through the dozens of makers and creatives Justin has brought to Steelton, he’s produced powerful sparks. I’m here to provide fuel by channeling his vision into an actionable plan.”
Steelton will be connected by biking and hiking trails to nearby recreational attractions such as Berliner Park and Scioto Audubon Metro Park. “We hope to be a jewel on the Rapid 5 necklace,” said McAllister.
In addition to the creative tennants at The Fort, City Winery, a New York-based wine producer, concert venue, and restaurant, will open later this year or early 2023. There are 13 City Winery locations around the country. Owner Michael Dorf has built his career by redeveloping historic properties as nightlife destinations, which fits in perfectly with the long-term plans of Steelton Village.
“Live music will be a big part of our community; we’re encouraging all our restaurants, bars and taprooms to include stages. We’re also building opportunities for live music throughout our outdoor areas and greenspaces,” said McAllister.
In addition to City Winery, a new craft brewer, Honest Friend, is planning to open in summer 2023 at 2140 S. High St.
McAllister and Katz are lifelong Columbus-area residents with family roots on the South Side.
“It’s incredible, when people join us for tours, they marvel at how close to the city’s center the project is, and yet they had no idea anything like this was down here,” McAllister said. “Kyle and I share a passion for historic buildings that have so much character and history in them. Being able to celebrate that in these walls and being able to reintroduce people to the potential of the South Side is a lot of fun,” he added.
The developers see over $350 million being used to transform the underappreciated acreage into a pulsating, walkable village that draws area visitors for markets, festivals, and the arts.
“We’re not developing for today. We’re developing for Columbus’ next and taking this area from nondescript to noteworthy,” said Katz. “Steelton Village has the opportunity to combine a storied past with a future that reflects Columbus at its best: smart, open, vibrant and engaging. We’re dedicated to fulfilling this potential.”
To learn more about the history of The Fort and to keep up-to-date about Steelton Village, visit thefortcolumbus.com.