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PHOTOS: With WatersEdge expanding, here’s what’s next for the former Red Roof office campus



The office campus that once housed the headquarters of Red Roof Inns is thriving with an eclectic mix of tenants.

Fourteen years after acquiring the vacant Timberline Office property off Interstate 270 in Hilliard, Equity Inc. says the $3.2 million investment is working out.

The 25-acre, four-building campus is well-leased and a key tenant, the WatersEdge Event & Conference Center, is planning to double its space with a $3.25 million investment.

“It went through a soft patch during the recession, but even during that time it was mostly leased up,” said Steve Wathen, CEO of Equity, which itself became a tenant of the campus several years ago. “It’s doing great now.”

The 25-acre campus is made up of four buildings, including the three originally built for Red Roof, totaling 88,000 square feet, and a 20,000-square-foot medical office building constructed in 2013 at 4595 Trueman Blvd.

That fourth building sits on about 2 acres Equity sold off when it was developed for the Pediatric Associates Inc.

Other Timberline tenants include a daycare and a law firm. About 12,000 square feet is available for lease, primarily in the south building, Equity spokeswoman Anne Ring said.

Though occupancy has never been a problem, Wathen says reviving the scenic, sprawling campus wasn’t always a sure bet.

It sat idle for several years after the Red Roof hotel chain departed in 1999, with two major challenges for any buyer.

“The first thing was to convert it to multi-tenant,” Wathen said. “It’s three separate buildings but they’re connected by tunnels so it was for a single tenant – no fire separation, there was a common lobby.”

Highway access also was a problem before Trueman Boulevard was extended to I-270’s Cemetery Road interchange.

“We only bought it on the premise that the city of Hilliard would install Trueman Boulevard,” Wathen said. “Right after we bought it Hilliard commenced work on the road; it all came together really well.”

There’s room to build on the momentum, Wathen said, but Equity doesn’t want to ruin the quiet “resort” feel of walking paths around a large pond.

“There’s ability to add up to 90,000 additional square feet. We’ve looked at restaurant use out at the corner of Davidson and Trueman, we’ve looked at office buildings – that’s long-term,” he said. “We could clearly accommodate two to three more structures. But we wouldn’t do that. It’s like working at a resort and we really like that, and our tenants like that.”