“Missed Opportunity”: The New Columbus Buzzwords

Okay, so ever since the urban movement resurfaced in the last 10 years or so, I have been patiently waiting for Columbus to get with the program. In some cases, it has… and here is pretty much the entire list of examples of the city being forward-thinking, or at the very least, following established urban development principles:

1. The Scioto Greenway and Scioto Mile
This project, completed in 2015, removed the low-head dam south of the Main Street Bridge. This lowered the water level of the Scioto River through Downtown, allowing for the creation of more than 30 acres of new park space. Walking and biking paths, landscaping and public art was included in the project, which also improved water quality in the Scioto and allowed for a more natural flow.

Scioto Greenway river restoration.


Scioto Mile

2. Getting rid of the City Center monstrosity for Columbus Commons park.
The 1989 City Center Mall, built in the typical suburban style that lacked any real street-level interaction, died a slow death due to competition. It was demolished in 2009 and Columbus Commons replaced it, complete with landscaping, restaurant space and a carousel. The park has been popular for warm-month events, and new development has sprung up around it.

Before.


After.

3. CoGo bike-share.
What started as 30 stations with 300 bikes a few years ago has grown to more than 40 stations, with future expansions planned.

4. Adopting the Complete Streets infrastructure program.
The concept of Complete Streets is the idea that public infrastructure should think about more than just cars. It allows for the principles that all roads should have pedestrian infrastructure, and where possible, multi use paths and bike lanes.

5. The CBus.
The Downtown circulator bus has been very popular, particularly because it is free to all.

I literally couldn’t think of any others, but perhaps someone can help me out with other examples? In any case, this part will focus largely on Downtown, with the next installment focusing on other areas of the urban core.

Back in 2002 when former mayor Mike Coleman helped initiate the first Downtown plan, it was built around the idea of a strong urban center, which Columbus hadn’t really had in decades, the Short North and German Village notwithstanding. His goal was to add 10,000 new residential units to Downtown by 2010. The city offered incentives like tax abatements to help make it happen. Unfortunately, the housing market in Columbus, like in just about every city, was severely impacted by the double recessions during the 2000s and Downtown ended up with less than 1/4th of the goal by 2010. While the economy was not Coleman’s fault and he was in fact fighting the good fight, the effort still ended up fairly underwhelming. Consider the very sobering facts about Downtown Columbus. In 2010, Downtown had 7,416 residents according to the Census report called “Distance Profiles for US Metropolitan Areas 2000 and 2010”. In the report, population profiles were given for each mile out from “City Hall”, or basically the center of each city’s downtown. Mile 0 measured the CBD, and Columbus’ 7,416 total was shockingly low for a city its size. In fact, of the 92 Midwestern metro areas of any size, Columbus’ downtown had the 15th lowest population. Out of major cities, it ranked dead last. The only bright bit of news was that it was just one of 22 Midwest downtowns that saw population growth between 2000 and 2010 (oh, and that the #15 worst ranking was actually an improvement from #8 worst in 2000), perhaps the only tangible result of the 2002 plan. I’ll get back to the population problem in a bit.

The lack of reaching 10,000 units during the 2000s was not the only casualty of the recession years. Coleman also revived the discussion about bringing rail to the city, but he did so in the form of streetcars, which seemed somewhat like a half-measure attempt. Ultimately it didn’t matter anyway. As soon as the economy crashed in 2007-2008, the plan was shelved without even getting on a ballot. Rail discussion has come and gone several times since then, but only in the context of multiple studies on potential routes and costs, but there have been zero serious discussions since 2007 about rail being something that is on its way to the city. Columbus remains the largest US city in the nation without passenger rail service of any kind, even as the economy has returned to normal and many other cities continue to expand or begin building systems of their own.
But rail is not the only transit misfire of recent years. Let’s talk about BRT. Dubbed the CMAX, a proposal to put Columbus’ first BRT (bus-rapid-transit) line on Cleveland Avenue was announced a few years back. The problem? It really isn’t BRT. BRT traditionally has dedicated lanes, fewer stops and bus stations that more closely resemble train platforms than the traditional bus shelter. Because of this, these buses typically run up to 50% faster along routes than a normal bus. With the CMAX, however, no dedicated lanes are planned whatsoever. Instead, the buses are supposed to get “signal priority” rather than separated lanes. This ensures that the bus will inevitably get stuck in traffic, and studies done on BRT systems overwhelmingly make the case that BRT in mixed traffic doesn’t significantly reduce route times or increase ridership. Technically, it isn’t even BRT. Oh, the stations will be fancier, as shown below, but fancy stations don’t actually make for a BRT system. Why transit leadership would make such a stupid mistake is beyond me, especially when there are already plenty of examples of better systems out there.

But wait, there’s more! Without rail, and with half-assed BRT that is still years away from being built on a single road, those wishing to use transit in Columbus have to rely on COTA and its bus system. Long using the outdated spoke system from Downtown, COTA finally decided it was time to redesign its system, which will include adding more express routes, extending hours and rearranging existing routes to better serve areas where people actually live and work. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it is still COTA will all its problems. You still need actual money to ride, as there is no rechargeable card, something cities across the country have used for years, and there is no live tracking system to show where buses are relative to bus stops. COTA actually paid a firm to design such a live tracking system, but it failed miserably and they were forced to go back to the drawing board. So far, there is no word on when or if a 2.0 version will arrive.

So let’s face it, transit sucks in Columbus. The city has long had a reputation as a car-first city, and it is hard to argue otherwise. This brings me back to Downtown and the urban core in general. Once upon a time, Downtown and adjacent neighborhoods were some of the most dense in Ohio. Population peaked by 1950 around 30,000 just in Downtown alone, but then followed several disastrous decades of “Urban Renewal”. I can’t say for a fact that UR affected Columbus more than most cities, but it is hard to argue with the results. Block after block after block of densely-built historic buildings were demolished for parking lots, most of which still exist to this very day. The population Downtown plummeted to barely 2,000 by 1980 before beginning its slow ascent again to the still pathetic 7,416 in 2010. This indiscriminate destruction was compounded by the highways that were deliberately plowed through urban neighborhoods, something which even Eisenhower, proponent of the national highway system, was appalled by. The Near East and Near South communities like German Village and Old Towne East were suddenly cut off from Downtown. While the historic German Village did better given that it had a dedicated group of proponents to revitalize the area, OTE and King-Lincoln saw their populations collapse. Thousands of historic homes not destroyed by the highways were left to rot, and many of them succumbed to the Urban Renewal wrecking ball eventually. The bottom line is that the urban core was hurt badly, and for a long, long time, no one understood the consequences of that.

By the mid-1980s, Downtown alone had over 65,000 parking spaces, but as I said above, very little population. It had become a place for office workers to abandon after 5pm on weekdays, and weekends were a ghost town. City leaders had long been discussing ways to bring life back to the core, but in a classic Columbus folly, thought the best way to do that was to build a suburban enclosed mall in the middle of Downtown. To do so, blocks of historic buildings that had managed to survive nearly 4 decades of destruction were demolished. When City Center and its monster Capital South Parking Garage were opened in 1989, it lacked the necessary characteristics that encourage pedestrian activity. People literally drove into the garage and went into the mall without ever stepping foot onto a sidewalk. Not surprisingly, Downtown retail not associated with the mall collapsed and the area ended up even more dead than before. Exactly 20 years later, in 2009, the mall itself came down after failing to compete with newer suburban malls. Some people mourned its loss, but not me. Unfortunately, the city-block sized parking garage remained. As mentioned above, City Center was replaced with a park, Columbus Commons.

The park plan received a LOT of negative feedback. Many were convinced that it would just become a place for the homeless to squat in or piss on new landscaping, or for criminals to lurk behind bushes waiting to strike. It was all pretty silly, and ultimately, none of that happened. The park, with the help of a robust schedule of yearlong activities planned by the city, became an almost instant success. A new stage on the north end allowed such events like Picnic with the Pops, from the Columbus Orchestra, to move Downtown from elsewhere. Also, even before the construction of the park, part of the new land was set aside for mixed-use construction. It was assumed then that it might take a decade to fill in the sections along High Street or the corner of 3rd and Rich. However, the new park being the success as it was, combined with the new Scioto Mile a few blocks away, made this area attractive to new development. All good so far, right? Here is where things took a turn towards “missed opportunity” in a big way.

An Atlanta-based developer, Carter, and Moody Nolan proposed a 6-story project called HighPoint at Columbus Commons for the entire section of the park along High Street. The problem? High Street is arguably the city’s most prominent urban commercial corridor. The city had, not long before that, instituted recommended standards for High Street Downtown that called for minimum 10-stories. Worse, the design for HighPoint was terrible. The materials were cheap, and it was basically just a large box with tiny windows. The 300+ residential units (in 2 buildings) were a plus, as was the ground floor retail, but the scale of the project was simply too small for such a large site. The bad design just made it worse. Initial excitement over development coming to the Commons so soon after its construction faded pretty quickly with such a mediocre proposal. Unfortunately, the project received all the variances it needed and was built pretty much as proposed. It looked even worse in reality than it did in proposal form. It is now considered one of the worst projects built in the core in the last decade. Worse still, the retail sections have struggled to fill, and only very recently has there been any news on the spaces being filled.

HighPoint as was originally proposed.


HighPoint as completed.

HighPoint wouldn’t be Downtown’s only recent development missed opportunity. With such low Downtown population, one would think going for the most underwhelming result shouldn’t be the goal, or at least following recently adopted guidelines would be a priority, but that has proven to not be remotely true. While great developments like the Commons, Scioto Mile and the Scioto Greenways have activated RiverSouth construction, more often than not, the proposed projects have been vastly underwhelming for their Downtown locations. Before getting to the missed opportunities, let’s talk about the few RiverSouth projects that have bucked the trend.
At the northeast intersection of S. High and E. Main, a parking lot had existed since the late 1980s, when construction of the adjacent Capital South Garage was completed for City Center. The narrow lot had once had a proposal for a 4-5 story apartment project around 2003, but that never got very far. The 12-story, 250 High project was announced in 2013. The mixed-use project would contain 156 apartments, office space and ground floor retail. Completed in 2015, the project has been very successful with high demand for its office space in particular.

Another decent project for the area is the LC at RiverSouth project at S. High and Town, which consists of an 8 and a 10-story mixed-use building with over 200 residential units and ground floor retail. Construction has been extremely slow on this project, but finally may be going vertical over the next few months.

Finally, we have the Julian, a 90-unit renovation of a former factory building at S. Front and W. Main.
Before

After

3 solid projects. Moving on to the problems though, there is a project in the RiverSouth that came about during the 2000s that is every bit the missed opportunity that later projects in the area would be- The Annex at RiverSouth. Lifestyle Communities, or LC as it is commonly known, took advantage of Coleman’s tax incentives to propose a condo project on two giant surface parking lots between W. Rich and W. Town along S. Front Street. These sites had been transitioning to parking since at least the 1950s and all buildings had been demolished by the 1980s. They remained this way through the mid-2000s, when LC, which had largely focused on building suburban apartment complexes previously, decided to enter the Downtown market with the Annex project. The two lots were pretty much some of the most prime real estate in all of Downtown, as they were just a block west of High and a block east of the river. A project of height could’ve taken advantage of some fantastic views of Downtown and the riverfront, as there were mostly low rise buildings between the site and the river itself, and the large sizes of the lots- the largest left west of High Street Downtown, were perfect for signature development. Instead, LC decided to bring suburbia into the city. It proposed a 4-story condominium development. There were no mixed-use elements, such as retail, associated with the project in any way. Yet again the Downtown Commission let the project fly through approvals with nary a change from the original proposal. To be fair, the design of the Annex is significantly better than HighPoint, but the scale was and is massively undersized for the location. Its lack of retail meant that anyone living in the complex had to go elsewhere to shop and eat. This would really be the first project that the Downtown Commission would ignore its own development guidelines to approve. HighPoint was next… and then there were a lot more.

LC somewhat redeemed itself a few years later with the proposal of the LC RiverSouth project mentioned above. Similar name, but a much different development from the Annex, so perhaps LC learned a few things in year years between them. Or maybe not, considering its most recent proposal for the northwest corner of W. Main and S. Front. Named The Matan, the proposal would include 117 apartments and retail. Unfortunately and once again, the 5-story proposal is far too small for its prime location.

The Matan.


Now, for some, the prospect of this project is a major positive, because it replaces a surface lot and adds population density and retail to a part of Downtown that needs it. This is not a missed opportunity because of those factors, but because it does so in the most bare minimum of ways, much in the same way that HighPoint or the Annex did before it. Adding something where nothing currently exists is of course a positive, but it is also setting the bar as low as it can possibly go in terms of development. Consider the proposal for just across the street, at the southwest corner of W. Main and S. Front.
The 75-unit, 5-story apartment building, as yet unnamed, is even worse than the Matan. Besides also being far too small for the location, it also completely leaves ground floor retail out. Instead, the first 2 floors will be, what else… parking. So rather than building pedestrian level momentum on Front, which severely lacks it, the Downtown development commission is allowing projects to move through without encouraging even mixed-use elements. Why?

Southwest corner of Main and Front.

RiverSouth is hardly the only area seeing underwhelming projects Downtown. Take a look at some others.

Northwest corner of Gay and High:

Unnamed project at Gay and N. High.


This 230-unit, 3-building project will be just 6 stories on some of the very last surface lots on High Street Downtown, once again in a corridor that adopted standards stresses a minimum of 10 stories. And while the design itself is not terrible, and there is retail, the design setbacks only enhance the fact that the project is far too small in scale for an entire block of High Street.
Southwest corner of Front and Long:

This 8-story city office building is, once again, underwhelming in scale and design. Its design actually looks very similar to the Franklin County Courthouse building constructed a few years ago. See below:
Very similar, right? Also, the project also includes a new parking garage on the northwest corner of Long and Front. Front currently has more than half a dozen large parking garages already. Not a single one of them has any mixed-use elements, such as residential or office above, or retail on the ground floor. This new garage will also not, creating one more dead zone when the city could’ve been more forward-thinking.
Northwest corner of S. 3rd and E. Rich:

Original Two25 proposal.


The southeast corner of Columbus Commons was originally proposed to be developed by something 20 stories or above. When the proposal for 17-story Two25 first came out, it was already a little disappointing. The news release, however, suggested the mixed-use project could go higher depending on demand. However, it was recently announced the Two25 would instead have its height cut by 5 full floors and would only be 12 stories. No real explanation was given, beyond the developer claiming that Columbus had not reached adequate $-per-square-foot returns for the larger project, despite extremely high demand for Class A office space and high 90s occupancy rates with residential. So basically, the developer didn’t buy into the idea that there was enough demand, despite every other mixed-use project, including 12-story 250 High, filling up rapidly.
Northeast corner of E. Long and N. Fourth:

An as yet unnamed 10-story proposal is a missed opportunity for a few reasons. Originally, this was supposed to be 5 stories taller and for some reason, in what has become an all too familiar story, was reduced. Further, a good chunk of the site will be yet another parking garage for Downtown (there are now almost 30 garages and nearly 300 surface lots- think about that for a minute). The parking garage will not have retail on the ground floor, but rather office space for the developer. So instead of putting the offices on the 2nd floor of the garage and having retail/restaurant space on the ground floor to activate the street, this section of Fourth will remain a dead zone. Worse still, the garage will be the prominent look at the intersection, rather than the residential. Rather than address these flaws, the Downtown Commission caught the vapors and swooned in approval.
Basically all of Neighborhood Launch:
Okay, so I am going to get some flack for this, but hear me out. Overall, I do like this development. The quality of construction is there, design is good and it is replacing several surface lots and creating a much more vibrant area. However, there are some flaws that need to be mentioned. First of all, it is simply too small in scale, like many other developments Downtown. While there are a few 5-story buildings, most of it is 3 stories. The height/density is less of an issue, though, than the complete lack of mixed-use elements in a development that has several hundred units. Even in the 5-story buildings on E. Long, there is no retail. Part of creating an urban neighborhood is not just about getting people to live there, but also giving them amenities, and Neighborhood Launch lacks those amenities. There seems to be little to no regard for giving residents something to do. Even a corner café would be something, but just like in the Annex at RiverSouth, residents currently have to go elsewhere.

A condo building in Neighborhood Launch.

While in this post I have focused largely on Downtown, this is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is going on around the rest of the city, and the situation may actually be worse elsewhere *coughClintonvillecough*. If Columbus wants to be a major, vibrant city, it has to act like one and not simply pay the concept lip service. Things like expanding transit should be a priority and development should not only match demand, but in order to reach the potential of what could be, it should be encouraged to push the envelope of what is possible rather than merely meeting the bare minimum of standards, or sometimes not even meeting them at all. Columbus should not be a city of missed opportunities, but rather one of exceeding expectations whenever possible. When its downtown is already one of the least populated of nearly 100 Midwest peers, it seems clear that going bare minimum is not going to get the job done. You can do better Columbus.

Before and After Google Special: 2007-Present Part 1

Columbus has been changing so quickly the past several years and it’s easy to forget just what the city used to look like in the not so distant past. Let’s take a look!

First up…
Brewery District

Location: App. 507 S. Front Street
Date: July 2007

Same location in August 2015.

Location: App. 546 S. High Street
Date: July 2007

Same Location in August 2015.

Location: W. Sycamore and S. High Street, looking southwest.
Date: July 2007

Same location in August 2015.

Location: 570 S. Front Street
Date: July 2007

Same location in August 2015.

Location: The Clarmont Site, App. 687 S. High Street.
Date: July 2007

Same location in August 2015.

Location: Short Street and W. Livingston Avenue, facing southeast.
Date: July 2007

Same location in August 2015.

Location: App. 299 W. Whittier Street, facing north.
Date: July 2007

Same location in August 2014. Now Scioto Audubon Metro Park.

Year in Review 2014: March-May

Development News
March
-Plans were announced to redevelop Poindexter Village with 350 residential units, as well as community center and park space.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/poindexter-plan-calls-for-350-multi-family-units-urban-farm-bw1
-A new brewery announced it would be moving into space on West Town Street in Franklinton.
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2014/03/land-grant-brewing-finally-finds-home.html
-A new 42-unit residential development was announced for Downtown Dublin.
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2014/03/crawford-hoying-planning-42-luxury.html
-101 residential units were proposed for 991 Dennison Avenue in Victorian Village.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/new-five-story-101-unit-apartment-building-proposed-for-victorian-village
-Columbus announced plans to use $2.5 billion to build infrastructure to reduce runoff and pollution issues, including creating water gardens and new parks across the city.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/green-infrastructure-and-neighborhood-pocket-parks-part-of-blueprint-columbus-plan-bw1
-Reeb Elementary on the South Side was announced to be turned into a community center.
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/03/21/south-side-community-center-gets-go-ahead.html
-New caps, similar to the existing retail cap on High Street over I-670 were announced to be in the works as part of the 70/71 rebuild. The caps would replace the highway bridges on S. High and S. Third between Downtown and German Village.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/caps-planned-for-high-and-third-street-bridges-south-of-downtown-bw1

April
-A vacant 1880s building a 140 N. Grant was announced to be renovated into mixed-use and residential.
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2014/04/10/former-inkling-printing-building-on-east-long-to.html
-40 units of affordable housing was proposed for vacant buildings at Long and Front Downtown.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/affordable-housing-development-proposed-at-long-front-downtown
-Plans to renovate the Citizens Building at the southwest corner of Gay and High Downtown were announced, as well as building a new mixed-use building on the northwest corner.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/edwards-communities-contemplates-infill-at-gay-and-high
-Plans were also announced to renovate hundreds of apartments in the Metro West complex behind Westland Mall.
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2014/04/mitt-romney-affiliate-buys-most-of-metro-west.html

May
-The Short North Donatos announced plans to rebuild into a new restaurant with 2nd floor patio and additional spaces for more retail.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/short-north-donatos-demolition-and-new-build
-The Byers Chevrolet site on West Broad Street in Franklinton was purchased by Nationwide Reality for a potential mixed-use project.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/nri-to-redevelop-byers-chevrolet-site-in-franklinton
-Casto announced plans for a 152-unit residential complex overlooking the Scioto River near Hayden Road.
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2014/05/casto-to-build-apartments-overlooking-scioto-river.html
-41 new homes were coming to N. Grant Avenue in Weinland Park.
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2014/05/wagenbrenner-adding-market-rate-homes-in-weinland.html
-A small condo development was proposed for Summit in Italian Village.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/condos-proposed-for-first-and-summit-in-italian-village-bw1
-Children’s Hospital announced plans for 2 new buildings on Livingston Avenue.
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/05/28/Nationwide-Childrens-Hospital-plans-expansion.html
-The Stoddart Block, a historic residential building, would be renovated into micro apartments.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/stoddart-block-affordable-housing-downtown

Economic News
-Home sales declined in all 3 months of March-May, as demand far outpaced supply.
-The unemployment rate continued to fall to multi-year lows.
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/business/2014/05/20/regional-central-ohio-unemployment-falls-april.html
-Columbus was named the 6th most affordable metro in the nation.
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2014/05/ohio-cities-ranked-among-most-affordable-housing.html

Other News
-Columbus’ population was announced to have grown by more than 12,000 people between 2012-2013, and reached a population of 822,553 in 2013.
-Columbus was named one of the top cities for entrepreneurs.
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2014/05/columbus-tops-in-ohio-among-best-cities-for.html
-Columbus was named a top city where people could accomplish their dreams/goals.
http://www.columbusunderground.com/columbus-ranked-6th-on-list-of-american-dream-cities-jb1

2013 Residential Projects and the Year Ahead

2013 was a pretty significant year for Columbus, if only because it saw its busiest residential development year in and around the urban core in many years. Here are the highlights of some of the biggest.

1. The South Campus High Rise and Addition Project
# of New Units: 360
Project Cost: $171.6 Million
Project Height: 7-8 Stories in Multiple Buildings
Some might suggest that this isn’t strictly a residential project because it was student housing. However, I disagree with that. The projects added significant additions to already existing Park, Stradley, Steeb and Smith Halls by connecting the pairs together with what essentially amounted to a brand new building stuck in-between. It also involved significant renovations to other residential buildings in South Campus. This was the first part of a major renovation and expansion project for housing on OSU’s campus.

Some links to this project complete with site maps and construction photos:
http://fod.osu.edu/projects/s_res/2010_7-26.htm
http://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/south-campus-high-rise-additionrenovation

2. HighPoint at Columbus Commons
# of New Units: 302
Project Cost: $50 Million
Project Height: 6 Stories in 2 Buildings
HighPoint was a rather unexpected surprise for Downtown. When Columbus Commons was being constructed, the plan called for residential buildings running along High Street on the west side of the park. Unfortunately, that plan was not supposed to happen for perhaps a decade or more, depending on development interests. Within a year of the completion of the park, however, HighPoint was being proposed. While not exactly the most inspired design or preferred height for such a prominent location Downtown, the projects potential 450+ residents will greatly help the neighborhood’s goal of increased vitality and 24-hour activity. In fact, it may not be too much to assume that this project has encouraged others, such as the 12-story 250 High Project and LC’s double 8-story tower project, both of which will begin construction soon just across the street from HighPoint and the park. Collectively, they will add, at minimum, over 650 new residents.

Links for the project:
http://www.highpointcolumbus.com/columbus/highpoint-on-columbus-commons/photos/

3. Liberty Place, Phase II
Address: 250 Liberty Street
# of New Units: 207
Project Cost: $25-$30 Million
Project Height: 4 Stories
Liberty Place, in the Brewery District, was completed in 2006, the last of a slew of development projects in the Brewery District beginning in the 1990s and came in the middle of a relative quiet period that began when the Arena District stole some of the neighborhoods momentum. That momentum has returned in recent years as urban living has gained significant traction in public opinion. Phase II of Liberty Place was supposed to have been built years ago, but the recession and the uncertainty regarding the exact layout of the rebuilt I-70/I-71 split which runs past the site put the project on hold. All told, Liberty Place now has 342 units.

Links for the project:
http://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/phase-2-of-liberty-place-apartments
http://thelibertyplaceapartments.com/

4. Tribeca
Address: 700 West Third Avenue
# of New Units: 205
Project Cost: Unknown
Project Height: 4 Stories
Tribeca, from Edwards Communities, was built along Third Avenue in the 5thxNW neighborhood. While adding significant density to the area, the project is mostly known for its strange layout. Dubbed the “Fortress” or the “prison”, the project has a long, blank wall along Third Avenue with tower-like structures along it, resembling the fortifications of a prison. The ugly design and lack of interaction with Third because of this layout caused the project to receive a lot of criticism.

A link to the project, the criticism and photos:

http://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/gowdy-field-development

5. Lennox Flats
Address: Kinnear Road, Lennox Town Center
# of New Units: 194
Project Cost: Unknown
Project Height: 3 Stories
Lennox Flats was built over two phases, the first with 92 units and the second with 102. Built in a mostly vacant lot just to the west of Lennox Town Center (across the railroad tracks), these were built in modern-styles and were targeted at students from OSU.

Link with photos:
http://www.columbusunderground.com/phase-two-of-lennox-flats-wrapping-up-this-summer-bw1

6. 600 Goodale
Address: 600 West Goodale Street
# of New Units: 174
Project Cost: Unknown
Project Height: 5 Stories
600 Goodale is likely the most strangely located new project of 2013. It was built on a small strip of land located north of Goodale Street across from White Castle’s HQ building. The location is strange because the land is bordered by the Olentangy River on the west and a highway exit ramp to the north and east sides. In fact, the site sits on a section of land between 315, 670 and major ramps for both to the north. The land is not directly connected to any major neighborhood. Despite the strange location, the modern building was, at last count, 96% leased.

Photos of the project:
http://www.columbusunderground.com/construction-to-wrap-soon-on-600-goodale-bw1

So those were the top 6 largest projects from 2013. More than 2,200 total units were completed in the urban areas of Columbus.

But what’s coming for 2014? Here are the top 5.

1. Jeffrey Park Phase 1
Address: E. 1st Avenue and N. 4th Street, Italian Village
# of New Units: 334
Project Cost: $180 Million+ For all phases.
Project Height: 4 Stories
The Jeffrey Manufacturing site has long been planned for redevelopment. It is, by far, the largest undeveloped site in Italian Village or anywhere in the Short North. Previous plans from the early-mid 2000s fell through, but were revived by a new developer in recent years. The first phase calls for the completion of a mix of townhomes and apartments in a mix of styles. A community center is also planned with a gym and pool. Although this project was supposed to start in the fall of 2013, calls are now for it to begin before winter is over. This may delay the finish for this project into 2015, but for now, it’s still the biggest project for 2014. The entire Jeffrey site will eventually have more than 1,300 new units.

Photos and project information:
http://www.columbusunderground.com/jeffrey-park-will-add-over-1300-new-residences-to-italian-village

2. Taylor House
Address: 5005 Olentangy River Road
# of New Units: 329
Project Cost: Unknown
Project Height: 4 Stories
This project along Bethel Road will go into the site of a former K-Mart. Construction began over the fall and should wrap up toward the end of the year.

Renderings and more information:
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2013/09/24/former-kmart-site-at-olentangy-and.html

3. View on 5th
Address: 965 West 5th Avenue
# of New Units: 285
Project Cost: $50 Million
Project Height: 6 Stories
The View on 5th, in 5thxNW, is a 2-building complex along 5th and Holly Avenues. The 6-story building along 5th will contain 153 apartments with ground-floor retail, while the Holly Avenue building would be 3-stories and contain 132 units. The project is scheduled for completion this coming summer.

Link with info and renderings:
http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/print-edition/2013/06/28/top-end-housing-for-w-5th.html

4. Berkeley House
Address: Bethel Road and Riverside Drive
# of New Units: 256
Project Cost: Unknown
Project Height: 4-5 Stories
Berkeley House is being built by the same company as Taylor House, only on opposite ends of Bethel Road. This will be a mixed-use complex featuring apartments and offices. There was some controversy surrounding this project as it sought to demolish a small stone house from around 1808. Unfortunately, no one seemed to realize the historical significance or age of the structure until the project was set to begin construction. The lack of time made it impossible to raise the money to move the house, so it was demolished. The Upper Arlington Historical Society saved the stone from the house and plans to build some type of marker with it.

Unfortunately, I have not seen any renderings for this project yet, but it has begun construction.

5. Neighborhood Launch
Address: East Long Street, Downtown
# of New Units: 130
Project Cost: Unknown
Project Height: 5 Stories
Neighborhood Launch is an ongoing project Downtown. About 200 units have already been completed along and near the Gay Street Corridor. The project is continuing with the first of 2 buildings, each containing 130 units, along Long Street. The first of these 2 should be complete later this year, with the 2nd beginning construction over the summer.

Renderings can be found here:
http://www.columbusunderground.com/neighborhood-launch-to-build-260-new-downtown-apartment-units

So there you have it. 2013’s and 2014’s largest projects. These, of course, represent just a small sample of what’s being built.




Neighborhood Profile #2: King-Lincoln

This week is Demographics week. First up, ACD’s second neighborhood profile, featuring the King-Lincoln District, Columbus’ historically African American cultural heart.

I was going to write a history for the area, but this video tells it better than I ever could.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_3L_gvqZnU

History aside, what I can do is provide a more detailed demographic picture from the past, present and possible future of the neighborhood.

Population

1930: 17,970
1940: 18,282
1950: 20,527
1960: 17,746
1970: 11,627
1980: 9,291
1990: 8,456
2000: 8,025
2010: 6,439

Population peaked around 1950, but during the 1950s began its long-term decline. Some might say this was a product of White Flight, but in this case, the neighborhood was already almost entirely non-White. The White Flight movement was more than just about racial demographic changes in neighborhoods, it was a factor of urban neglect. Just like in the rest of urban Columbus, King-Lincoln lost its urban appeal due to infrastructure deterioration, lack of city-focused leadership, decline of schools and increasing crime rates (among other things). One of the biggest blows to the area, just like what occurred with Olde Towne East to its south, was the construction of I-71 in the early 1960s. The highway cut the neighborhood off from Downtown, demolished hundreds of historic buildings, and allowed more people to effectively leave the neighborhood altogether. This is a good reason why the population dropped by almost 35% between 1960 and 1970.

The population loss rate had been slowing down each decade through 2000. During the 2000s, the city cleared out Poindexter Village, one of Columbus’ first public-housing projects and home to several hundred residents. This accounted for a very large chunk of the loss that occurred from 2000-2010 and why the loss increased during that time. The city is now tearing the complex down with plans for mixed-use development on the site. If not for this action by the city, it’s very likely that King-Lincoln would’ve had it’s lowest total population loss since the decline began in the 1950s.

Demographics
White
1990: 6.1%
2000: 6.2%
2010: 9.6%
Black
1990: 90.7%
2000: 87.7%
2010: 84.0%
Asian
1990: 2.4%
2000: 0.7%
2010: 0.5%
Hispanic
1990: 0.6%
2000: 1.1%
2010: 2.2%
Other
1990: 0.9%
2000: 5.4%
2010: 5.9%

% Change By Demographic for Each Decade
1990-2000
White: -3.7%
Black: -8.2%
Asian: -71.6%
Hispanic: +63.0%
Other: +501.4%
2000-2010
White: +24.5%
Black: -23.1%
Asian: -42.1%
Hispanic: +60.2%
Other: -11.8%

The demographics for the last 30 years show Hispanic and White populations are becoming an ever larger chunk of the neighborhood, while Asians have declined significantly. The African American population is still, by far, the largest demographic, but it too is on a long-term decline. This suggests a gradual gentrification of the neighborhood.

And what of the future of the area? Significant revitalization news has been coming out in recent months. As mentioned above, the 36-building Poindexter Village, long a hot spot for crime and concentrated poverty, is currently in the process of being torn down. The site will be replaced with residential, retail, office and arts space over time. A larger area plan was recently announced here: http://www.columbusunderground.com/pact-plans-165-million-strategic-redevelopment-for-near-east-side . The $165 million plan will focus on King-Lincoln’s main thoroughfares: East Long Street, Mount Vernon Avenue and Taylor Avenue. Increasing density with mixed-use development and revitalizing the commercial corridors is a big part of the plan, as well as infrastructure and green space improvement. Smaller developments include Homeports housing renovations http://www.columbusunderground.com/homeport-looks-to-increase-activity-on-long-street-in-king-lincoln-district-bw1, which have been very successful so far.

So while King-Lincoln has seen better days, the neighborhood is currently in transition. 5-10 years from now, the neighborhood should be radically changed, hopefully for the better. Its proximity to Downtown and other central neighborhoods give it a great advantage as the city has become fairly popular again.