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.
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.