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Planning Columbus site, Scene75 eyes Dayton expansion

The people behind Scene75 are planning their biggest indoor entertainment center — and possibly the biggest in the country — in Columbus.

At the same time time, Jonah Sandler, Scene75 founder, has not forgotten his company’s roots.

“Dayton is where it all started,” Sandler said in an interview Monday. “I look forward to bringing new attractions to our Dayton location.”

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A limited liability company tied to Scene75 recently acquired a former Macy’s store at a Columbus mall for $3 million.

“We are going to bring our Scene75 concept there, but we’re going even bigger than our typical footprint,” Sandler said.

The company’s Columbus center will cover about 227,000 square feet. By comparison, Dayton’s Scene75 location is about 120,000 square feet.

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“To our knowledge, it will be the biggest indoor entertainment center in the country,” Sandler said. “It’s going to be a two-story entertainment center.”

Visitors there can expect “escape rooms,” twice as many arcade games across two floors and some new components, Sandler said. The site’s elevator and escalator will be retained.

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“This will be the flagship location, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sandler hasn’t forgotten Dayton. The center off Poe Avenue and Interstate 75 still has another 40,000 square feet that could be used or built out somehow.

“We have some ideas on the drawing board,” Sandler said of Dayton. “Nothing has been finalized.”

And Sandler’s company also holds the former ITT Tech property near the Dayton Scene75

Last fall, a holding company tied to Scene75 Entertainment bought the former ITT school property on Stop Eight Road.

JDS Commercial Holdings LLC — of which Sandler is principal — bought the former school property at 3325 Stop Eight Road for $740,000.

“We have a few thoughts” for that site, Sander said. “But we’re waiting to review until we see how the Columbus location plays out in terms of layout and so forth. That may influence what we do with the ITT center.”

Before expanding Dayton anew, the company intends to open its Pittsburgh-area center, most likely in August.

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The Columbus center could open in the early fourth quarter of 2018.

Sandler’s acquisition philosophy is clear by now. The company does not build new buildings, and it usually locates in areas that have suffered a bit economically.

He looks at the overall market, at demographics and possible competition. He also considers how best to grow the “Scene75” brand.

“We are trying to create a centralized growth strategy,” Sandler said. “But at the same time, we are opportunistic by nature. We look for acquisition opportunities that provide a footprint that works for us, and a price that allows us to create a business model that makes sense.”

In 2012, Sandler opened the first Scene75 at a former warehouse at 6196 Poe Ave., near the former ITT property.

Since then, he has opened a third entertainment location 30 miles south of Cleveland in Brunswick, Ohio. Besides the Dayton center, the company also has a 84,000-square-foot Cincinnati-area venue in Milford.

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