Residential Construction Trends of Columbus In One Graph

We’ve been hearing a lot the last few years about how residential construction has largely turned toward the rental variety, and no more so than in the urban areas. I have tried to document the level of activity in the city in my development page, but it doesn’t quite show what’s going on in the city overall. I did a little research and found some surprising realities that fully support the rental boom.

Here is a graph of annual housing construction permits from 2004-2013 broken down by multi-family and single-family types.

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The chart above is based on the # of units, not the number of overall projects.

So what do the numbers say? Well, it raises some interesting questions. First, was the amount of single-family home construction on the decline before 2004 given the downward trend from that year through 2005? And was multi-family construction on the rise during the same period? Did the recession merely interrupt a trend that began more than a decade ago and resurfaced strongly in recent years? It’s hard to say for sure as I don’t have information before 2004, but regardless, it is clear that multi-family construction is the preferred residential preference right now by builders. Single-family home construction, however, has remained steady and well below its previous peak of the last decade.

This continued low level of single-family construction has likely contributed to the fact that area sales in that market have been down for several months now due to a lack of inventory. Prices, however, have risen.

OSU’s Major Housing Project

Ohio State University has been engaged in long-term housing improvements on its campus for a few years now, and is set to begin the next and largest phase to date.

The first phase along W. 11th Avenue, called the South Campus High Rise Renovation and Addition Project, is nearing completion. The $171 million project began in 2010 and focused on Stradley, Smith, Park, Steeb and Siebert Halls. The residential buildings, which were all constructed between 1957 and 1960, would see major changes.

-New 12-story additions would connect Park with Stradley and Steeb to Smith.
-10-story Siebert Hall would receive a major renovation.

Rendering of the additions between Park/Stradley and Steeb/Smith.

In addition to the building additions, air conditioning, new elevators, lobbies and other improvements were made. The air conditioning was provided by drilling 450 geothermal wells. The additions would bring an additional 360 student beds.

Also renovated and added to was the William H. Hall housing complex at W. 11th and Worthington Street. Opened in August 2012, the building added 530 new beds.

The South Campus High Rise Renovation and Addition Project will ultimately add about 900 new student beds, but this is a far cry from the project just beginning along Lane Avenue.

Announced around the same time as SCHRRAP, the North Campus Residential District Project began just this past week. This project focuses on the large cluster of dorms and other buildings at the southwest corner of N. High Street and W. Lane Avenue. Most were built in the 1960s and 1970s and look it.

North Campus area 2013

The image above shows how the area looks currently. As the key says, the buildings in red are scheduled to be demolished. The road that goes through the complex, Curl Drive, is also scheduled to be removed.

The image above shows the first phases of construction through Spring 2014. As you can see, there will be 3 main areas of construction during this period.

-A new dorm will be constructed at the southeast corner of W. Lane and Neil Avenues. This area is currently a surface parking lot.
-Scott Hall will be demolished and the site will be replaced with a much larger building.
-Raney Commons will be demolished, and site preparation will take place for new buildings, as well as removing Curl Drive and other infrastructure.
-Once site preparation is complete, 3 new dorm buildings will be constructed at the corner of N. High and W. Lane.

The last image above shows the final phase of construction, from Fall 2015 to Summer 2016. During this period, several changes take place.

-4 row homes along W. Lane will be demolished, as well as North Commons, Houck, Blackburn and Nosker Halls, the Royer Student Activities building and the Jones Pool.
-5 new buildings will be built in this area, as well as new addtions to Taylor, Jones and Drackett Halls.
-A central pedestrian corridor will be completed through the entire complex.
-High and Lane will be landscaped, and park spaces will be created throughout.

Final Project Renderings

In the end, 3,200 new beds will be created in the $370 million project. This will drastically change the look and feel of this area, and will continue to add density to the campus area, already Columbus’ most dense.

Columbus Area Residential Development Booming

During and just after the recession’s housing crash, single-family home construction in the Columbus area seemed to fall apart, much like it did across the nation. Foreclosure rates soared, prices fell and builders were suddenly left with too many homes they couldn’t get rid of.

Out of the ashes of this market rose a surge in rental demand. It suddenly made more and more sense to rent rather than to own, especially for young professionals and empty nesters who wanted to downsize during tough economic times. Not only did what housing people wanted change, but so did where they wanted it to be located.

Columbus experienced a relative boom in rental housing during the late 1990s into the first few years of the 2000s, but almost all of that rental housing was constructed along and outside of I-270, where the suburbs were exploding with growth. Inside of 270 saw little of this, and the urban core neighborhoods around Downtown were almost completely ignored altogether. Single-family housing became popular again during the early 2000s mild recession, and the housing boom that would help lead to the Great Recession of 2007-2009 really began at that time. However, it was in 2002 that the City and Mayor Coleman came up with a 10-year plan to help bring more residents to Downtown. It began offering tax incentives to developers who would build there, in some cases 100% abatements, in a goal to have 10,000 residential units built in and around Downtown by 2012.

I’ve done a ton of research on the results of this move by the city, and it did have an impact. From what I’ve been able to find (so far), Downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods saw the addition of less than 200 residential units between 2000 and 2002. 2003 saw over 500 alone with the new incentives package in place. Between 2003 and 2006, the area added over 2,000 new residential units, most of them condos. As the Great Recession hit in 2007, the rate of new projects slowed to half of what it was, though still higher than it was prior to 2003.

As the Great Recession eased and more financing became available, construction began to pick up once more. With the new trends in favor of urban living and rentals, the rental market exploded, as represented by the chart below that details the 2007-2014 period of complete/planned total residential units by year.

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Of course, for 2014-2015, the numbers are fairly preliminary as more projects will inevitably be added. These numbers also only show Downtown and its immediate surrounding neighborhoods, while there is infill going on across the city.

Completed Project #2- 2000- Miranova

On November 16, 1995, Developer Ron Pizzuti announced plans for a residential and office complex on the Scioto River shore on the southwestern edge of Downtown. In 1995, this area was a large vacant lot and a handful of small buildings. Originally, the $150 million plan called for replacing this whole area with two 25-story condominium towers, 14 luxury townhomes on the river, a 5-story office building and a pair of restaurants, all with construction to begin in 1996. 200 residential units were planned for the towers. This was all supposed to be part of a new series of Downtown developments including a new COSI, a new soccer stadium across the river on the Scioto Peninsula and a residential development on the Whittier Peninsula west of the Brewery District.

On May 12th, 1996, it was reported that the project would not actually break ground until sometime in 1997, already another year later than originally planned. The two towers remained on the agenda, as did the townhomes and restaurants, but the office building had gained a floor and would now be 6 stories.

By July 8th, 1996, the project had gotten larger still. The # of townhomes had more than doubled to 30 and the office building had risen to 7 stories.

On December 16, 1996, the office building once again grew, this time to 8 stories.

By February 4, 1997, the number of towers had fallen to just one, and mention of townhomes had disappeared, yet the price tag remained $150 million.

Further changes came on December 12, 1997. The single tower would be 28 stories and the office tower had grown to 16 stories. Groundbreaking was pushed back to sometime in 1998.

February 11, 1998, still a single 28 story condo tower, but now two 16-story office towers.

May 8, 1998, and back to just one office tower. Still no groundbreaking.

September 19, 1998, more changes. Condo tower down to 26 stories and the office building down to 15. But work has begun on pouring foundations.

Rendering of the Miranova project in 1998.

Miranova condo tower was completed in the early spring of 2000. By July, 79 of the 112 condos had sold. The office building, down to a final height of 12 stories, would not be finished until 2001. The last condo sale would not happen for several years, as the 2000s saw the market crash for these residences.

Miranova Project Stats
Began Construction in 1999
Completed in 2001
Cost: $150 Million
Height: 26 Stories
# of Residential Units: 112

Photo of 1 and 2 Miranova Place.  The photo also shows the old Main Street bridge prior to the construction of the Scioto Mile park.

Photo of 1 and 2 Miranova Place. The photo also shows the old Main Street bridge prior to the construction of the Scioto Mile park.

Completed Project #1- 2011- National Road Condos

The Olde Towne East neighborhood, especially along E. Main Street, has long been in the sights of developers and urban revitalization advocates. Gentrification began in the early 1980s, but for the most part, occurred structure by structure, so it was only very gradually that the area changed. That has changed somewhat in recent years with more investment from larger sources, such as the collaboration between Ohio State and the City to invest millions in infrastructure and housing improvements. Larger-scale developers have also stepped into the game. National Road Condos was one of those types of investments.

Located at 1023-1059 E. Main Street, 4 19th century homes as well as a commercial building were renovated. The 4 homes had been abandoned for decades and the commercial building was mostly empty, save for a small convenience store. After many months of work, all five buildings emerged as updated gems in a neighborhood growing with them. 8 new residential units, all condos, were opened up and the commercial building gained new tenants. While certainly not the largest project completed in the neighborhood, it does represent the potential of the Near East Side neighborhoods and their abundance of great housing stock just waiting for new life.

Project Stats
Began Construction: 2010
End of Construction: 2011
Cost: $3.5 Million
# of Units: 8

Some great before and after photos of the project.

1023-1025 E. Main is the westernmost house.  Here is the BEFORE photo.

1023-1025 E. Main is the westernmost house. Here is the BEFORE photo.


1023-1025 E. Main AFTER

1023-1025 E. Main AFTER


379 S. Ohio Avenue BEFORE.  The easternmost house and in very poor condition.

379 S. Ohio Avenue BEFORE. The easternmost house and in very poor condition.


879 S. Ohio Avenue AFTER.  Huge difference.  Even the lot at Ohio and E. Main has been cleaned up.

879 S. Ohio Avenue AFTER. Huge difference. Even the lot at Ohio and E. Main has been cleaned up.


1051. E. Main Commercial building BEFORE.

1051. E. Main Commercial building BEFORE.


1051 E. Main Commercial building AFTER..

1051 E. Main Commercial building AFTER..