Earlham College breaks ground on new retail development

Construction is beginning on a new retail center on land owned by Earlham College at the intersection of National Road West and College Avenue. Pictured from left to right: Del DeMao, owner and president of DeMao Retail Consultants; Anne Houtman, president of Earlham College; Dan Stamper, owner Thor Construction; and Stacy Lutz Davidson, Earlham’s senior vice president for finance and administration.

On Monday, May 16, Earlham College celebrated the groundbreaking of a new retail center that will feature exciting new dining and shopping options within walking distance of campus.

The development, which is expected to open late this year or early 2023, is located at the intersection of National Road West and College Avenue, just west of Needlers Fresh Market.

“We are transforming an underutilized area of campus to become a new destination for students to eat and gather with friends,” Earlham President Anne Houtman said. “I’m excited by the potential this project has to strengthen connections between the College and our neighbors in Richmond in a way that wasn’t available before.”

Richmond-based Thor Construction Company and DeMao Retail Consultants have agreed with Earlham on a 60-year lease for the property. Under the provisions of the contract, Earlham has influence on the architectural design of the development and the ability to reject tenants that do not live up to the vision of the project. Up to four tenants could occupy the future shopping center.

Site work began on the property in spring 2021 to raze three vacant college-owned houses and a former Domino’s pizza location. This project is the first of many planned for the next five years to improve the student experience and revitalize Earlham property along College Avenue. Planning is also underway to renovate or replace several houses on the western side of College Avenue.

“Our priority is ensuring that this development will meet our architectural standards and match the aesthetic appeal of our campus,” said Stacy Lutz Davidson, senior vice president for finance and administration. “We are committed to adding to the quality of life for our students and neighbors.

“With plans for new student housing and a shopping center adjacent to campus, we are positioned to deliver on the kinds of amenities that students are looking for in a college experience.”

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