This page highlights all development proposals and ideas that either never materialized or were canceled at some stage. The projects are ordered in chronological order by the year they were canceled or became irrelevant.
**Last Updated: 5/6/2020
2008-2019: SPARC at Cooper Stadium
In early May, 2008, it was announced that Arshot Investment Corp. was set to buy the 47-acre Cooper Stadium site for a race car complex, not so dissimilar from the previous motorcycle mecca proposal that had fallen through the year before. The proposal included a drag strip, half-mile racetrack, hotel and conference center. There was almost immediate neighborhood opposition due to noise concerns, but as 2009 and 2010 came and went, the project only expanded to include a mechanic’s school and auto technology center. 2010 also saw the first name for the proposal: Cooper Park. Despite the heavy local opposition, city and county leaders eventually approved the plan in 2011. Finally, in 2012, Franklin County sold the stadium site to Arshot, and the project took on its final name: The Sports Pavilion and Automotive Research Center, or SPARC. The $40 million proposal had further expanded with the addition of a restaurant and exhibition space. Construction of the project began in early 2013, with the partial demolition of Cooper Stadium. After that initial step, however, progress halted. Although there was sporadic news about it in 2014, 2015 and 2016, the site sat with no work, and the partial stadium deteriorated. By 2017, articles began emerging questioning the lack of progress, with Arshot dodging more questions than it answered, but insisting the project remained alive. There was no more news about the project for 2 more years until July, 2019, when it was officially announced that the project was dead. Arshot, which still owned the property, was now proposing a more “conventional” development, with apartments, offices and retail. The initial renderings did not include the last remaining portion of Cooper Stadium, a sad end to the 1932 building.
2016-2018: Millennial Tower
While this project has not been officially cancelled, the fact that the developers that proposed it have recent history of not moving forward with large proposals and the lack of recent news suggests this is probably dead.
Originally proposed in the May, 2016, Millennial Tower was a $150 million, 25-story, mixed-use tower with 100 apartments. Located in RiverSouth at the southwest intersection of Rich and Front Street, it would’ve been the largest residential tower built in the city since Miranova in 2001. Over the next few years, the project’s design and scope would gradually be altered, reaching a proposed height of 28 stories with 138 apartments in 2017. The final version of the tower, at that height, was approved by the Downtown Commission in January, 2018. The last official news was in November, 2018, with a few small updates to the design. Since then, the proposal has not gone back to the Downtown Commission, and most feel that the project is not happening.
2017: Grand Central
In August, 2017, Schottenstein Real Estate Group proposed a 33-acre, mixed-use development in the Arena District. Located on two large parcels bounded by railroad tracks, the proposal called for offices, retail and at least 2 residential towers. Within a month or 2, rumors began flying that Schottenstein had soured on the project partially because they did not actually own the land, and partially because the railroad tracks were proving difficult to work around. It was also rumored that the land owners had offered the site to then Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt to put a new soccer stadium there, but that idea was rejected. By November, just 3 short months later, Schottenstein officially announced that they were abandoning the project. Today, the site remains vacant and there have not been any new proposals.
2015-2016: Burwell Station
A 3-story, 4-unit mixed-use project was proposed as the 2nd phase of the Burwell series of developments near the corner of East 5th Avenue and Summit Street. Eventually, however, the 3rd phase of the project, Burwell Heights, became the dominant project and took over the space for Burwell Station.
2014-2016: Pearl and Prescott
In 2014, a 6-story, 13-unit apartment building was proposed for a site at 848 N. Pearl Street. Later iterations called for 5 stories and 14 condos. By 2016, the project was proposed as only offices. After that, there was not much more that came out, and the project seems dead.
2012-2013: 15 W. Poplar Street
A 3-story, 3-apartment mixed-used project was proposed on the small sliver of land just off N. High Street behind the 670 Cap. As far as I know, the project never really moved beyond the basic proposal stage, as I have yet to find any information that it made it as far as concept or architectural review with the Victorian Village Commission. The proposal’s developer seems to have sold the property to a 15 W Poplar LLC in 2018, suggesting there may be movement on developing this highly desirable location at some point in the future.
2011-2013: Discovery Commons
Developer George Berardi proposed a 5-story, 102-unit apartment building at 273-283 E. Spring Street. The $11.5 million project was mentioned several times and was brought to Downtown Commission meetings for review all the way through 2013, but has since faded away. The older buildings located at 283 E Spring were demolished in 2017, and the project proponents still own the property, so it’s possible another proposal could eventually pop up.
2009: Garden Theater Residential Tower
2008: Goodale Park Hotel Tower
2008: Buggyworks Phase II
400 W. Nationwide Boulevard, 23 Stories
2005-2007: Cooper Stadium Motorcycle Mecca
In 2004, a study on the feasibility of renovating the old Cooper Stadium site estimated a cost of $38 million. Instead, city leaders began to look at building a new stadium for the Clippers in the Arena District. As that moved forward, they began to look into ideas to redevelop the stadium once minor league baseball moved out. One of those ideas, first mentioned in 2005, was to create a “motorcycle mecca”. The plan, proposed by Franklinton’s A.D. Farrow Co. Harley-Davidson would’ve left the stadium intact while building a hotel, restaurant, dealership and motorcycle racetrack. However, after 2 years of negotiations with the county, the proposal fell through by the fall of 2007.
Other proposals briefly thrown about early in the process included a soccer academy, an auto mall and a business and industrial park.
2001- 70/71 Highway Cap Office Towers
Developer Jeff Edwards proposed building a pair of 10-story office towers with ground-floor retail to be built on caps straddling the I-70/I-71 trench at High Street. The two towers would have consisted of 316,000 square feet and included attached parking decks. Even with tax increment financing- TIF- in place by the city to help it move forward, there were several issues that ultimately killed the project. It could not move forward until a study on the planned reworking of the 70/71 split was completed in 2003. Second, a recession the following year created a tight financing market. Finally, a glut of office vancancies in the Downtown area made the project unnattractive to investors. The final nail would come when the State would’t work with the developer to allow the caps to be constructed. A decade later, the State finally approved a couple developable caps over the freeway, but this section of highway reconstruction won’t be finished for several more years. Whether the caps are ultimately built remains to be seen.
1997: Bicentennial Plaza Apartments
71 W. Rich Street, 21 Stories
1994-1996: Soccer Stadium
1990-1993: Capitol Place Tower
In 1990, the Columbus Dispatch, in partner with Galbreath Interests, proposed a $150 million, 42-story office tower for the parking lot at 50 S 3rd just south of the 34 S. 3rd Street Dispatch offices. Over the next few years, architectural designs were completed, financing was secured and a construction timetable called for groundbreaking in the fall of 1993. That summer, however, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of New York, the financiers, abruptly pulled out of the project. When no other financing partners stepped forward, the project was eventually canceled.
1990-1991: Pickaway Plains National Wildlife Refuge
While this was not in Columbus itself, it was in the metro area and was a very significant potential project, so I’m including it here. The proposal for this reserve, only the 2nd of its kind in Ohio at the time, was to be located along the Scioto River at Circleville south to the Ross County line. Up to 8,000 acres were to be included and would’ve helped restore wetlands along the river. The $8 million project included land purchases and intial infrastructure for public acces, and was expected to open around 1993 or 1994. First proposed in the fall of 1990, the Ohio Division of Wildlife was backing the project. In January, 1991, the US Fish and Wildlife Service signed off on a study for the project’s feasibility, but the proposal was already meeting resistance from farmers who owned most of the land in the proposed area and were not willing to sell. By June, 6 different proposals had risen to attempt to appease critics and proponents of the original idea. A few of the proposals were significantly larger than the first- one was more than 20,000 acres and included land all the way to Franklin County and parts of the Big Darby watershed. Ultimately, however, it was the land itself, and not opposition, that killed the project. A study of the soil showed that, due to the abundance of gravel underneath, it drained too quickly to be useful for significant wetland restoration. The proposal was pulled in August, 1991.
1987-1992- Riverbend Place
In 1986, a parking garage was built at 40 N. Front Street. The garage was specifically designed and built to handle a multi-floor addition on top, and the following year, a 10-story, $23.5 million office building was proposed, making the entire building 19 stories in height. Originally, the city wanted to move some offices there, but when that plan fell through, other tenants were sought out. Midland Mutual was interested for a while, but that fell through as well. The project was supposed to open in 1988, but kept getting pushed back. In 1990, the LeVeque family became involved and pushed for a more mixed-use addition with 3 floors of condos, pushing the project to 20 stories and the price tag to near $40 million. The last mention I could find of this project was in 1991 when it was given a 50-50 chance of moving forward in 1992. It seemed either financing or a lack of potential tenants eventually killed this one. The garage still exists, and because it was built to handle more floors, a new proposal could one day still appear.
1988: Waterford Tower II
1987: Center Place
230 s. High Street, 27 Stories, $50 million
1986- Ohio Penitentiary Mixed-Use Conversion
$110 Million, 400 units
1980-1982- Inn on the Plaza Hotel
In the fall of 1980, Columbus developer John Kessler announced that he had partnered with the Stouffer’s hotel group to build a $40 million, 425-room hotel at the northwest corner of North High and Hickory streets Downtown. The site had been a parking lot since the 1960s and was being used by Nationwide at the time. The original plan by Kessler had been for a 12 to 14-story hotel on the site, but was later increased in size to 20 stories, with constructon set to start in late 1981-early 1982 and finish sometime in 1983 or 1984.
In any case, due to the size increase, projected costs also increased significantly, and before long, Kessler and the Stouffer’s group were in disagreement about financing. By the end of 1982, it was clear a deal couldn’t be reached and Stouffer’s pulled out of the project. The proposal faded away after that. Eventually, Nationwide would build Three Nationwide Plaza on the site in 1987.
1967: Domed Sports Arena
A proposal for a 50,000 seat arena built within a rock quarry in Marble Cliff was floated after a study commissioned by the superintendent of the Columbus Recreation Department, Melvin Dodge, was completed. The study suggested that a large arena could be built inside an existing or tailor-made quarry site by building it on steel trusses and a double layer of inflatable plastic. While Dodge pushed City Council to explore the idea further, lack of interest, competition with existing city teams and infrastructure, and lack of financing prevented it from going much further.
1965: Bexley Apartment Tower
The Broad-Merkle Realty Co. proposed a 15-story, $4.2 million apartment building at 2877 E. Broad Street on the east side of Bexley. The company had originally proposed a development with 9 2-story apartment buildings, but changed it as it had recently become clear that Bexley needed to revive its tax base, allowing for an opportunity to go bigger than what would normally be approved. While Bexley leaders promised an “open mind” on the project, residents were opposed and worried that it would hurt property values. Eventually, the project was not approved and a much reduced 4-story development went in, known today as Bexley House.
1961: East Broad Luxury Hotel
1958: Pro Football Stadium
A 25,000-seat, all-purpose stadium was proposed for the Ohio State Fairgrounds where the race track used to be. The project was a collaboration between the State of Ohio and a private development company. NFL teams such as the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles were in talks with the group to hold exhibition games should a lease be worked out. The proposal broke down in May when the State rejected contract terms that would have only allowed the state to use the stadium one week per year and because no state money was available to build it. Small improvements were made to the existing racing stadium and a football field was installed for an exhibition game between the Bears and Eagles in August. The racing stadium lasted until the 1980s, when it was demolished to build the Celeste Center.
1950: South Side YMCA
A YMCA branch was planned for the west side of Ohio Avenue between Thurman Avenue and Mithoff Street. The application was approved by the Board of Zoning in April 1950, but local residents organized enough opposition to eventually cause the YMCA’s Metropolitan Board to formally withdrawal the propose in early June.
The 1946-1948 Civic Center Expansion Proposal Projects
In 1946, Mayor James Rhodes announced a plan for the Downtown area that called for a massive expansion of the riverfront civic center concept that had begun in the 1920s. The plan included at least 16 new buildings and other infrastructure projects for various areas of Downtown, Franklinton and the Brewery District, few of which were actually built. Here are the projects that did not happen.
1. Whittier Peninsula Redevelopment
The garbage dump that occupied the Whittier Peninsula south of Downtown would’ve been redeveloped. The proposals included moving the Columbus Zoo to the peninsula, building a golf course and boat club and building a new city hospital, Navy Reserve Armory and new state arsenal.
2. New Scioto River Bridge
The new bridge would’ve continued Dennison Avenue, which at the time went all the way to Spring Street, across the river and connected to Starling Street on the Scioto Peninsula.
3. Multiple Government Buildings
New government buildings were proposed for the NW corner of Long and Front, the NW corner of Spring and Front, the NW corner of Chestnut and Front and the SW corner of Spring and Marconi.
4. Ohio Pen Demilition-Park Creation
The Civil-War era Ohio Penitentiary would’ve been demolished and 2/3rds of the site replaced by a large park.
5. Transit Terminals
A new bus terminal would’ve gone in at the SE corner of Dennison and Maple at the northern end of the Ohio Penitentiary site. An express terminal would’ve gone in on the west side of Dennison Avenue.
6. National Guard Armory
This building would’ve gone southwest of the express terminal west of Dennison Avenue.
7. State Government Buildings
More government buildings would’ve been built on the Sciot Peninsula along Starling Street. Central High School would’ve been converted into a state government building.
8. Railroad Track Removal
The railroad tracks that now run southwest from the Convention Center would’ve been removed entirely from what is now the Arena District and a new road created over the route.
9. Naval Reserve Armory
This building would’ve gone at the SE corner of Starling and Town Street.
10. “Temple of Good Will”
Proposed for the NW corner of Front and Main, this building was for the Ohio Council of Churches.
11. Public Housing Project
A large housing project was proposed for the area bounded by West Broad, Sandusky Street (now 315), Sullivant Avenue and McDowell Street. All buildings within this zone in Franklinton would’ve been demolished and replaced with a public housing complex.
Ultimately, these projects didn’t happen either because of a lack of funding, or in the case of the Ohio Pen and railroad tracks, opposition by either the State or the owners.
1922: East Broad Hotel
The Valerie Manor Company proposed a 6-story hotel-residence building at the northeast corner of East Broad and Parkwood Avenue. The building would have had 150 apartments and 600 rooms. Despite opposition and attempts to block the project with an ordinance to prevent hotels from being built in residential areas, a building permit was issued in April, 1922. The company promised that the project would start immediately after, but it never seems to have been started at all. 5 years later, the current apartments were built on the site.
1914: Scioto/Olentangy to Lake Erie Channel