The Continent and French Market (Columbus)

Developer Bill Bonner passed away September 2, 2003 at age 68.  Long before there was an Easton Town Center, he developed the Continent and French Market which opened in 1974.

The Continent/French Market was a new concept when it opened 41 years ago:  a mixture of retail, offices, apartments, and restaurants all in one place, much like Easton is today.  Like any business that changes hands, the new owners never put the time or work into keeping it running and as the 1990s progressed, businesses moved out.  Businesses like The Toy Box at The Continent, the Candle Shoppe, Houlihan’s, and Rapallo’s.  The Post Office closed Friday, March 25, 2011, according to the sign still in the window.

The center was most recently acquired by Los Angeles based Axs Opportunity Fund in 2007, making it the 3rd owner in 11 years.  At that time, AXS President Shahram Afshani said as part of redeveloping the property, the movie theater would return to first-run movies.  So far that hasn’t happened and I wouldn’t bet on it happening.

Rob Click, managing director in Columbus for CB Richard Ellis Inc., thinks the complex needs to be demolished and development started from scratch.  “The problem is the buildings don’t function as they were developed,” he said in 2007. “It needs to be razed and it needs to be redeveloped.”

Columbus real estate consultant Robin Lorms said the days of the Continent as a specialty retail and entertainment destination have long passed.  “There’s too much going on at Easton and too much going on at Polaris,” said the Lorms & Belfrage Inc. principal. “The original concept isn’t working there today.”  That quote is from January 2000.

OSU’s Knowlton School of Architecture has some pictures of The Continent when it was still open:

The Continent (16) (640x480)
That’s pretty much what the “streets” of The Continent look like most any day.
The Continent (7) (640x480)
While the movie theater is actually open, I’ve driven past it when movies are being shown and the parking lot really isn’t all that full but then I don’t think second-run theaters draw crowds on their own and there really isn’t much else out here on Busch Blvd to draw a crowd.

The Continent (6) (640x480)

If my memory is correct, this was the building that housed WNCI/97.9 on the first floor until they moved to (I think) Grandview Heights.
If my memory is correct, this was the building that housed WNCI/97.9 on the first floor until they moved to Grandview Heights.
The Continent (20) (640x480)
Despite what Sears’ sign says, they’re not hiring. This Product Rebuild call Center closed in November 2014.