Okay, so these aren’t really every week. Let’s call them the occasional Week in Review. In any case, a lot has happened the past week, so let’s do a rundown.
First up, the proposed new Hilton Hotel at the Convention Center continues to get taller, and now stands currently proposed for 28 stories. Construction is not set to begin until possibly next fall, so we have a while to see if any further changes occur.
The latest rendering of the new Hilton.
Crew fans got huge news a few months back that a new ownership group was looking to buy the team and keep them in Columbus. This week, it was announced as to what would happen to both Mapfre Stadium, as well as the first renderings and location of a brand new Downtown stadium in the Arena District. The new stadium would be built along with a new mixed-use neighborhood called Confluence Village. It would include offices, restaurant/retail space, 885 apartments and a riverfront park.
The oldest buildings on Capital Square finally received some funding for the proposal to renovate them into office space. The buildings date to 1869 and 1901.
The former Graham Ford dealership in Franklinton was purchased by Pizzuti Companies. The 7-acre site is to the west of 315, away from where recent development has been concentrated, so the site may remain undeveloped for a while yet. But it indicates where the future of Franklinton overall is headed.
Last week’s big news was one that has me very excited. The Columbus Metropolitan Library announced that it had reached an agreement with The Columbus Dispatch and its parent company to purchase the rights to its entire newspaper collection, which it will make available in digital form on its website as early as November. The Columbus Dispatch has been publishing since 1871, but the library has had Dispatch content from 1985-present only, and only in text format for a limited number of articles. The agreement will allow the library to offer every issue of the paper online since 1871 in its entirety, including its enormous photograph collection.
This is an massive win and game-changer for researchers and history buffs alike. This information has largely been difficult to access. Microfilm at the library was impossible to search through unless you knew the exact date of an article. The digital collection will allow for easy searching for any content with just a simple search box, as it has with its other digital collections.
The other news this week was the ongoing saga with the North Market Tower project. A few weeks back, I posted renderings that were released, perhaps be accident, on an architect’s website. Well, this week we saw yet another rendering, seen below:
All I can say is… I hope to god this isn’t the final design. Not only is it shorter (and the planners promised that the project would absolutely NOT be reduced in height regardless of the final design), but it has none of the interesting architecture of any previous renderings. It’s just another box on top of another box. I call this style Modern Vanilla. It’s so painfully boring and architecturally sterile that to see this being built would remove all the excitement from this project. The height reduction would be pure Columbus.
This series will be a quick rundown of the past week in Columbus, so they will be posted on Sundays.
First, in terms of development, we had a few updates.
-The Market Tower project at the North Market has apparently gotten a new design.
It’s gone from this-
The new design may actually be at least 40 stories instead of the originally-proposed 35. No official announcements on the height increase have been released, but I suspect we’ll be hearing something soon on this.
-The Gravity 2.0 project in Franklinton got its initial approvals from the neighborhood development commission, including approval on the 12-story tower, which has also gotten an updated rendering, seen below.
Outside of that, the big news this week has been with the weather, or the near-constant appearance of incredible sunrises and sunsets over the city. The pictures have been flooding social media since the end of last week. Take a look!
Given the popularity of the Weinland Park Before and After, I am finally getting around to posting this one for the Near East Side, which is a combination of Olde Towne East and King-Lincoln. Like Weinland Park, the NES has seen its fair share of struggles over the years, but unlike Weinland Park, its revitalization has been decades in the making. It has seen steady house-to-house renovations since at least the 1980s, and is now at the point where the pace of larger scale redevelopment is picking up. There are currently at least a dozen infill projects in the works, with even more renovations.
North Ohio Avenue Before: 2009 North Ohio Avenue looking north.
These photos don’t represent all that big a change, but it shows some of the infrastructure improvements going on around the neighborhood. This picture is just south of the Poindexter Place development on North Ohio Avenue. The photos show the addition of a multi-use path, new sidewalks and pavement. Bike lanes, which aren’t shown in the Google image, were also striped.
Poindexter Village Before: 2009 North Ohio and Hawthorne, looking east.
Poindexter Village was the first large-scale public housing complex in Columbus, built back in the 1940s. All but 2 of the original buildings were torn down to make room for a redevelopment, called Poindexter Place. The last 2 buildings will become a museum. The change from 2009 to 2017 is drastic.
Before: 2009 Champion and Mt. Vernon, looking southeast.
Before: 2011 Hawthorne Avenue looking north.
Before: 2009 Oak and 18th looking northwest
An example of some of the businesses that have moved into the neighborhood.
Before: 2015 Bryden and Garfield, looking northwest. After: 2017
This is an example of the most common type of development within the Near East Side- the small-scale renovation.
Before: 2009 Long and 17th, looking southeast. After: 2017
These photos show a mix of private and public development.
Instead of focusing on a single project this month, I wanted to do a rundown of a few projects- this time both good and bad.
First, the bad.
High and Cherry Street Project
In what’s becoming a tradition for Downtown, yet another project there has been inexplicably downsized. Originally approved back in 2016, the project required the demolition of a historic building.
This was generally considered okay because the proposed 11-story project was a significant improvement in density that would’ve added more vibrancy to this part of Downtown.
The original proposal.
2 years later and, beyond the demolition, there had been no movement on the site, which was itself a little concerning because that typically means that something’s gone wrong or there are about to be big changes for the project. So it was no surprise when, toward the end of July, we received the bad news. Not only was the project going to be reduced in size by a full 4 stories, but all aspects of the project were getting worse. Parking spaces doubled, bike parking spaces were reduced by 70% to just 18, the ground floor retail was completely eliminated and overall residential units fell by 50 to just 70 total. Worse still, even the design of the building became just another bland box.
So what happened? Crawford-Hoying, the developer, made some reference to rising material costs that made its plan to include affordable, micro-unit apartments too expensive, hence the reduction in project size. However, this excuse seems suspicious at best. If higher material costs were a detriment to building the affordable component, why not simply lower the number of micro units or change to a market-rate project altogether? Furthermore, what would that have to do with eliminating the retail space or increasing parking? It wouldn’t. In fact, building parking is actually very expensive, and it’s why many cities nationally are reducing or eliminating parking requirements for new projects, as it is often prohibitively expensive to build and can derail quality urban proposals. If finances were tight, the last thing a developer would do with a new project is add MORE parking rather than trying to maximize potential income with residential units or retail space. Meanwhile, in the month since the project reduction was announced, we have seen other new projects announced or previously-announced projects move forward that have seen no reduction. The company also didn’t make any changes to its 10-story Moxy Hotel project at 800 N. High street, which is currently under construction. Overall, this just feels like a bait and switch. The 11-story proposal was approved, which allowed for the demolition, and now it’s coming in smaller and of a lower quality.
Regardless of the real reasons why this project was suburbanized and reduced, it continues the long-standing pattern of Downtown projects being underwhelming. Downtown should be receiving the the statement makers, so to speak. Instead, we continue to see other neighborhoods get them.
Speaking of, let’s look at the good with a couple of proposals that have matched, if not exceeded, their potential.
Upper Arlington’s Arlington Gateway
Proposed back in 2016 as a 7-story mixed-use building, the project has gone through many revisions. Over the course of the last 2 years, the project has only grown in size to its final iteration, an 11-story with more than 200 apartments, office space and retail. The $100 million project is the largest ever proposed for Upper Arlington, which has long been a more traditional suburban-style inner suburb. It has resisted the urban densification movement until recently. Being landlocked, the only way that it can increase population and maintain tax levels is to build up. Its city leadership seems to understand this, and though there was neighborhood opposition to the project, the city approved it almost unanimously.
The project will replace suburban development, including a strip center and Pizza Hut, as seen below.
Quality urbanism, increased walkability… this is a solid addition to Upper Arlington.
Franklinton’s Gravity 2.0
Franklinton is seeing a revival these days, particularly east of 315. Multiple projects have been proposed, and the upcoming Scioto Peninsula redevelopment is on the horizon. Kaufman Development, highlighted in last month’s Missed Opportunity for having to abandon a project in Victorian Village due to NIMBYism, has been on somewhat of a roll lately. It spearheaded a significant renovation of the famed LeVeque Tower, it built both of Downtown’s largest recent projects- 250 High and 80 on the Commons (the latter of which was, of course, downsized)- and it’s heavily investing in the future of Franklinton with a stunning, out-of-the-box development named Gravity. Gravity 1.0 was proposed back in 2016 as a 6-story, mixed-use development at 500 W. Broad Street in Franklinton. Innovative in design, the project included amenities like a climbing wall, outdoor movie theater, yoga plaza, lots of public art, a dog park, biergarten and more.
Replacing a few single-story, non-historic buildings and some parking lots (as seen above), the project was designed to drastically change the existing streetscape. It began construction in late 2016 and is nearing completion now. Few anticipated a second phase of the project, however, dubbed Gravity 2.0 Announced last week, Gravity 2.0 would be much more massive in scale than 1.0. Proposed for the entire block directly across the street between W. Broad and W. State, the project would include the following:
– A 12-story mixed-use building at the northeast corner of the site, directly to the west of the railroad tracks.
– A 6-story residential building on the Stat Street.
– A 5-story parking garage.
– A 6-story mixed-use addition to the existing Murphy building, which will be renovated.
– A 5-story townhouse building along McDowell Street.
– A renovation to the existing Solazzo Building at the southwest corner.
Like Gravity 1.0, the project will include different types of amenities than would be typically found. These include a green roof on the parking garage with a “city view overlook”, as well as an art walk through the lower floor of the garage. Along Broad Street, a retail plaza will be constructed out of shipping containers. Co-living will be included in the southern residential building. A food hall, brewery and restaurants are also potentially in the works. Overall, the architecture will match the funky modernism of Gravity 1.0.
There is no word yet on exactly how many residential units the entire site will include, or how much retail and office space. Those details should be released in the coming months.
This project is poised to become a serious game-changer for Franklinton. While there was already ongoing redevelopment in this area, a mid-rise development like this pushes the envelope and raises the prospects of future development coming in bigger, and the pace of the redevelopment will likely accelerate. This also increases the likelihood that the Scioto Peninsula to the east will see larger scale development, as well. Originally, the city wanted a couple 30+ story buildings there, with a mix of other mid-rise buildings. That plan was abandoned when an Indianapolis developer was chosen for the site and proposed mostly low-rise. That developer was let go from the project a few months ago, and the Peninsula will now be developed piece by piece. With large development occurring in Franklinton itself, the high-rises may be about to make a return, making the entire eastern section of Franklinton an extension of Downtown.
So there are a few great projects that are definitely NOT missed opportunities. Take note, Downtown developers- a lot of you are getting embarrassed.