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15th and High Update: More Demolitions, Utility Work on High Street Starting Soon

Brent Warren Brent Warren 15th and High Update: More Demolitions, Utility Work on High Street Starting SoonPhoto by Brent Warren.
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It’s been a little over two years since OSU first unveiled its 15th and High plan, calling for a transformation of the area that would include multiple new mixed-use buildings, a boutique hotel, a parking garage, a redesigned Pearl Alley, and a new public square.

Columbus Underground recently sat down with Erin Prosser of Campus Partners, the OSU-affiliated non-profit that has taken the lead on the project, to lay out the current state of the nine-acre redevelopment. Here’s where the project stands:

  • A three-story apartment and office building on E. 16th Avenue has been completed, an early piece of the puzzle that was necessary to enable future development.
  • The Wellington, a six-story apartment building with underground parking and first-floor retail, is currently under construction on the east side of High, between 16th and 17th avenues. The building is on track to be completed by August of 2018 (but the planned urban Target store could potentially open before then).
  • A number of demolitions have taken place elsewhere within the nine-acre footprint of the overall development, including the former FedEx building on 15th and the former Long’s Bookstore on the southeast corner of 15th and High. A handful of additional demolitions between now and the summer will be necessary in order to clear staging areas for the next phase of work.
  • More construction fencing will be going up, probably before the end of March, restricting pedestrian access to High Street from the neighborhood along E. 16th. Signs and sidewalk decals will highlight alternate routes along 15th or 17th for walkers heading to campus.
  • Also starting later this month, portions of High Street will be closed between 13th and 17th to allow for the construction of a new storm sewer line under the street. The work will be done in sections of about 300 feet at a time, with a travel lane in each direction maintained for the duration of the project. The new line, which will eliminate the large puddles that now form along that stretch of High Street during a heavy rain, will be completed by the end of August.
  • The new line under High Street will take some of the pressure off of the existing sewer line under Pearl Alley, which is made of brick and has always functioned as a combined storm and sanitary sewer. That line will be repaired and re-lined as a part of the project. Utility lines that currently run overhead along Pearl will also be buried.

“The next 18 months, it’s not the fun, vertical stuff, but it’s really critical, and it will get the 100-year old infrastructure where it needs to be,” said Prosser.

The second phase of infrastructure work – which will include sidewalk improvements, the realignment of 15th Avenue (creating the space for the public square), and the reopening of 16th Avenue to High Street – won’t start until July of 2018 at the earliest.


The phone calls are still coming in from developers interested in building the hotel that will look out onto the square and across to OSU’s campus, said Prosser, but no definite timeline for putting out a request for proposals for that building (or others) has been established.

She also said that OSU is the most likely tenant for the vast majority of the 300,000 square feet of office space slated for High Street south of 15th.

As for the impending inconveniences caused by the utility work, mailings and emails will be going out to inform students, faculty and staff of the changes.

For more information, see www.campuspartners.org.

Rendering by Paul W Kelley.

Rendering by Paul W Kelley.

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  • cucbus

    The amount of construction around OSU right now is incredible. I drove down Lane and High last night and there are now five construction cranes up. The amount of construction along High is already causing a headache for drivers and it appears it will only get worse unfortunately. Regardless, the construction is exciting and this entire area will be much different (in my opinion for the better) in the next couple years.

  • jman

    Good news here. What’s happened to Millennial Tower – I presume it’s in limbo as well as the North Market project? We move way too slow on projects downtown. Is this because OSU is our best and most important asset?

    • WalkerEvans

      You’re waiting for the pot to boil. Everything takes longer than you want it to.

      • jman

        How do other cities achieve such beautiful downtowns, so quickly, what are we missing that they’re doing?

        • Stephen Francis

          Can you expound on this with examples? Nashville is booming beyond belief, but they are a world renowned city and tourist attraction with local and foreign investment to really help boost that. Even alot of the projects you see are years in the making. We just don’t see the week after week experience. As an outside observer, we just see the results unless we are following the local urban blogs there are well.

          • “Even alot of the projects you see are years in the making. We just don’t see the week after week experience. As an outside observer, we just see the results unless we are following the local urban blogs there as well.”

            ^ THIS

            There are slow projects in other cities. There are delayed projects in other cities. There are cancelled projects in other cities.

            You just don’t know about them unless you go looking for that information.

            Here in Columbus — where we’re all paying very close attention — that information is at your fingertips, so it feels like Columbus is somehow slower than elsewhere, without really comparing the data against anything. We’re all sitting around waiting for the pot to boil every day, versus digitally checking in on other metro areas once or twice a year to see what’s up.

            On that note… go read up on urban development in San Francisco. The amount of scrutiny their commissions/neighborhood/resident groups put any development proposal through would make even the staunchest of Clintonvillians blush. Not saying that’s a good or bad thing… just providing an example. Cities like Portland, Denver, Seattle and even Brooklyn are challenging their private developers more and more with complaints of overbuilding luxury apartments, a lack of parking, and other growing pain types of issues that are quite a bit bigger issues there than they are here by comparison.

          • jman

            All good points. And though it isn’t the most important thing about Columbus (our citizens are), I guess I’m just frustrated at the seemingly lack of much progress downtown. Wish I could fast forward twenty years and have a look.

          • CB_downtowner

            As a downtown resident, I agree downtown core hasn’t moved as fast as we’d like. But unlike most cities, the surrounding neighborhoods are an extension of downtown. OSU, Short North, Italian Village, Discovery District, and Parsons have transformed at lightning speed and they’re so well connected to downtown. Look at Cincinnati. That city is a lot more exciting not because of downtown core, but because of OTR. Who would have thought that before 2020 we’d have a stretch of High St from campus all the way to German Village where literally every stretch has a vibrant neighborhood pocket filled in? With the High/Gay and Columbus Commons projects, that will be real in just a few years. If you’re selling an outsider on Columbus, selling that idea of one connected High St is unique and exciting, and actually much more exciting than if we concentrated only on high rise in a half-mile block.

            Don’t get me wrong, I want a dense downtown core too. But it’s really hard to be disappointed. Even if I don’t have a ton yet right outside my immediate doorstep compared to many downtowns, I am a very quick jump away from neighborhoods that are significantly more vibrant than they were 5 short years ago.

          • jman

            I probably shouldn’t say this, and while I’m proud of our urban neighborhoods – Columbus just doesn’t compare with urban neighborhoods like Georgetown or Dupont Circle in Washington D.C., or Midtown or Buckhead in Atlanta. And it was thirty years go last time I saw them.

          • Stephen Francis

            You answered your own question twice. These are both cities with plus or minus metro populations of 6 Million and these urban areas have been under development for 30+ years by your indication having has been there so long ago. I don’t know much about Atlanta, but the places you mentioned there just seem to be downtown Easton. The DC neighborhoods take us back to my point about building stock. Those neighborhoods were not devastated by massive deconstruction.

            But back to timelines. Columbus is, at best, 10 years into a strong urban renewal. These places you mentioned are many many years beyond that in places with populations and populations densities well beyond what Columbus will achieve. It’s almost unfair to yourself to look at that and use that as model for why Columbus hasn’t made it yet. That’s not to say we won’t have a place like those down the road but our starting point is very different.

          • jman

            Yes, I agree. Thanks for your point of view. I do feel better now, and hopeful for our future. It is very exciting to watch Columbus grow.

    • Michael Corey

      North Market project is just getting off the ground–um, figuratively–so I think it’d be unfair to say there’s been a delay there. Things have been quiet with Arshot’s Millennial Tower, and given the all quiet on the western front approach with the racetrack at the old Cooper Stadium, it’s fair to wonder what’s up with that.

      But Walker’s right. Nothing’s as fast as we’d want.

  • jman

    And don’t forget the Wolfe building – no doubt a matter for future generations to decide.

  • traviscols

    I can’t wait to see how Pearl Alley is used when this project is complete… I’ve always thought it had so much untapped potential. It will be nice to see it used for more than it has been in the past.

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