Our City Online


Columbus Commons Apartments Announced

Walker Evans Walker Evans Columbus Commons Apartments Announced
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Columbus Commons was unveiled in early 2009 as a three-phase project. Phase One is coming to a close this spring with the opening of the new Columbus Bicentennial Pavilion, which will be the crown jewel of the six-acre Columbus Commons park.

Today, the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation announced formalized plans to begin Phase Two: the addition of six-story, mixed-use apartment buildings along the High Street side of the development.

“We have selected Carter as a private developer who is going to build a 300-unit apartment project at Columbus Commons,” said Guy Worley, CEO of Capitol South and the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation. “The rental market is going very strong right now and there’s a huge demand for it Downtown.”

Carter is based in Atlanta, Georgia and is currently the third largest commercial developer in the United States. This project represents a $50 million private investment into Downtown Columbus.

“Our investments in Columbus Commons and the Scioto Mile have been catalysts for development,” said Worley. “We’re pleased that three years after announcing this plan we were able to get a developer that has the experience and expertise that Carter brings to the table.”

The announcement of the Columbus Commons Apartments comes several years ahead of schedule, as the timeframe for Phase Two of the development was expected to not be announced until 2014 or beyond. Instead, the project will break ground in August 2012 and is expected to be completed in early 2014.

“It’s important to point out that the park will remain open throughout all of the construction timeline,” said Amy Taylor, chief operating officer at The Columbus Downtown Development Corporation. “None of the programming or events at the park will be interrupted.”

The six-acre park will remain at the center of the site, becoming more of a “courtyard” type of space. The new mixed-use buildings will contain 23,000 square feet of new retail space, all of which will face High Street.

“The type of retail that will fill these spaces is still up in the air, but my gut feeling is that it will be more along the lines of Short North type boutique retail,” said Worley. “This really meets the goals of the Mile on High initiative.

The Mile on High is a retail-focused initiative launched in 2008 by Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman. The program provides incentives for retail developers to fix up older empty spaces, and to assist with tenants interested in opening stores Downtown.

“I am very excited about this project,” said Coleman. “We have a great local developer teaming up with one of the best national developers in the country. A mix of retail and residential surrounding the beautiful Columbus Commons is what we had planned for this site when City Center was demolished.”

The Columbus Commons apartments will go before the Downtown Commission on April 24 for architectural and project review and approval.

Print Friendly


  • CalebR

    Sooo happy! Its about time and now we can point out that the construction of Columbus Commons was NOT a waste of public money.

  • stephentszuter

    I’m very excited about the idea, but the architecture looks horrific. Why brick? Why no elegance or detail? I wish they would take the design back to the drawing board.

  • Development is exciting as is the announcement of new apartments on the park.

    What I don’t understand is why we built a park on one of the busiest streets downtown to showcase what a great city we’re becoming and now we’re hiding it from view. Can’t say I’m too happy about that. What about all the buildings and empty spaces across from the park? Plenty of retail spots open there currently.

  • CalebR

    Lol I don’t think we have to worry about the lack of park. Especially with the removal of the main street dam.

  • …and I still hold to my opinion that a mini conservatory with nursery/garden shop on the east side of the park (building site 4 in the picture above) would be a unique addition, not to mention a money-maker for the park. Please, please, please don’t add another office building. We have enough vacant office/retail space already and downtown residents/workers could use a nearby year-round garden shop.

  • stephentszuter

    I think the park was basically a part of this plan, which we see unfolding now. They wanted to tear down the mall, and make it into something that they could build on in a few years, then build on it. It’s unfortunate, but I’m glad to see that some of the park will remain afterward. I do like that part of downtown more open. We need our own little Central Park, IMO. Maybe we could turn the Warehouse District into something like that.

    Park space for all! :]

  • Schiller & Goodale are both “hidden” from High Street and they’re great parks. I don’t think the Commons needs to be visible from your car on High Street to continue to be successful.

    Bustling retail and development on High Street (which will most likely continue to spur additional development across the street in some of the vacant spaces) does more to show off what a great city Columbus is than the underutilized grass slope that currently leads to the park.

    Downtown needs people. The park will still bring in people for events, and the new apartments will bring more 24/7 people here to live. Win-win.

  • geoyui

    I love that downtown is growing and developing so fast. But how will the noise level be for residents when there is an ampitheater literally right next door?

    And I agree on the architecture, maybe go beyond brick?

  • It is nice to see something happening so soon, but it just isn’t enough density to make a difference. Something with at least 9 or 10 stories and 500, not 300, units would be the kind of density we need to begin to activate our downtown core. This project seems to be the kind of density I’ve seen in suburban Denver.

    The downtown planners do not really understand how cities truly work. It is disheartening how Columbus so often just misses the mark. As an example, the Annex at RiverSouth, and even the Flats on Vine, are both a complete underutilization of prime real estate. We will never be an active city if we keep building residential projects like these. It’s unfortunate that what could have been such a home run for downtown, is just something that’s mediocre.

  • MHJ

    Wow! This, the removal of the Main Street Dam, the forthcoming plans for the Scioto Peninsula…downtown Columbus is moving at lightning speed! This is fantastic news!

  • I think this is great news! While the park will be a little bit hidden from the street, the article in the “Dispatch” said that there’d be a wide, tree-lined lane in the middle of the buildings for access to the park and that some of the retail sites would go through from High to the park. While I agree the buildings are kind of dull, more square boxes like we do so much of here in Columbus (ie, the Arena District), I bet they were trying to go for the “stately” look of many of the boxy apartment buildings along Central Park in NYC? But, I admit, I also get tired of our square boxes and rectangles. But, the main thing that makes the city is people, not buildings, so getting people down there is fantastic! Nice job!

  • anillo

    I think, given the current economy/real estate market, this density is fine. It’s not like there aren’t tons of parking lots downtown that could be home to 9-10 story buildings in the future. Adding an additional 3-4 stories to a 6 story building would probably come very close to (if not actually) double the cost of construction. Missing out of a few hundres units is not going to spell disaster for the revitalization of downtown.

  • @geoyui – I would hope that potential residents know full well that there is an amphitheater in their back yard. No one should be moving there expecting peace and quiet 24/7. There will be events, there will be bustle, there will be people and noise. It sounds like these units are catering to a younger crowd that is interested in that kind of urban energy.

    @honestlyinsincere – Taller and denser would be nice, but I don’t think this project is worth writing off in the manner that it sounds like you are.No single 300 or 500 unit project is going to make or break or activate an entire Downtown. It takes 10 of these kinds of projects within close proximity, so this development is really only one piece of the puzzle. The Annex is another, LeVeque is another. Atlas is another. Neighborhood Launch is another. Keep adding them up and everything will continue to improve. The Arena District is entirely made up of 4-6 story buildings, and while there are certainly flaws to that neighborhood, it’s lightyears more “activated” than when it was an abandoned prison.

  • BrianW

    Walter – sorry, but it’s a bit naive about the noise. I predict pressure for an early noise curfew very soon after the apartments open. I wonder if the developer has actually considered the acoustics from the new $5M stage of surrounding what’s left of the park with six story buildings.

  • BrianW

    Also, what’s left is far smaller than Schiller & Goodale.

  • Asch

    I wonder if 6 stories is enough to get some shade onto that damn park for all themiddle of the day summer events. It is brutal, especially with kids. But, it probably won’t. Sigh. Otherwise I like the park, and I approve of this plan. The empty space between high and CC is visually annoying.

  • futureman

    Columbus Commons always was much smaller than both goodale and schiller parks.

    Goodale is 32 acres, Schiller is 23 acres. Columbus Commons before development is 9 acres, after it is reduced to 6 acres. The apartments won’t take all 3 acres as the section at Rich and 3rd isn’t being developed yet.

  • I like brick.

  • CbusIslander

    Looks like 60’s style dorm buildings. Little more glass floor to ceiling and “no punch openings” and more relief such as balconies could add to this design. If this is going to be the same as the banks then these will look bland in ten years. Brick does provide more quality more than the banks design though. I was hoping for a couple more floors. Good news about this starting so soon after the park opening.

  • NEOBuckeye

    If people don’t like noise in the apartment buildings coming from the ampitheater, they have a number of other options nearby to choose from. This definitely is not the same Downtown Columbus of 10 years ago in which living options were much more limited.

  • @walker
    While I appreciate that downtown will continue to improve with all these projects, it will never reach its full potential with this scale of residential. There needs to be a critical mass of residential and retail to create a fertile streetscape. The low density of the Annex, this new project, and Neighborhood Launch will simply not bode well for anything other than a manufactured urbanity with a suburban scale.

    No single 300 or 500 unit project will make or break downtown, but project after project of low density residential in prime locations will break downtown in the long run. What great active city has a downtown with 3-6 story buildings? Low expectations should not be confused with what works. Portland, Denver, Charlotte, Austin – comparable cities – wouldn’t dare make these mistakes time and again. Columbus shouldn’t be so desperate. Yes, something is better than nothing. Do we want to see the parking lot desert in the northeast quadrant of downtown covered with mediocre wood frame town homes with garages and on street parking? Of course that would be better than that damned parking lot desert, but it is not what Columbus should strive for.

  • @BrianW – Nothing naive about it at all. There’s a precedent already set at places like Arena Crossing where you’re literally living directly above entertainment/nightlife noise seven days a week. There are bands playing, people partying and street vibrancy noise that fills weekends until 3am. I don’t think the Commons will be quite that noisy that late into the night. I don’t thin a noise curfew would even be applicable as their events are rarely likely to extend beyond midnight.

  • Pickerington_Kyle

    Austin and Charlotte have many parking lots and that are not even filled. They may be bold with creating 600 feet condo towers but outside a street or two their downtown’s are not anywhere near vibrant as our’s. I think if we do anything we should follow Denver’s example.

  • @honestlyinsincere – Don’t get me wrong… I want to see taller buildings. But our most vibrant and active neighborhood is The Short North, which is made up primarily of 2-3 story buildings. Would more be better? Sure. Does it prevent the neighborhood from being a destination? Certainly not.

    This project is adding 300 units with accommodations for 400 new residents on 2 acres of land. So that’s an average of 200 people per acre.

    According to this interview with Guy Worley in 2010, Downtown Columbus is 966 acres, and from the first Downtown Strategic Plan meeting, there are 163 acres that are taken up with surface parking that could be redeveloped.

    So at the Commons level of density, if we add 200 people per acre, we’d be able to add over 32,000 people to Downtown proper. In addition to the 10,000-ish existing residents, that’s over 42,000 people.

    To put that in perspective:

    Downtown Pittsburgh: 2,721
    Downtown Austin: 9,000
    Downtown Portland: 10,000
    Downtown Atlanta: 23,300
    Downtown Chicago: 29,283

    I don’t know how you define what you consider the “full potential” for Downtown Columbus, but I don’t see this level of density in this new apartment development to be all that bad from a numbers perspective.

  • Pickerington_Kyle

    42,000 PEOPLE. That’s INSANE. Our downtown would be overwhelmingly vibrant. Heck there’s 100,000 people that work downtown. If 42,000 people lived here over night. That would create a vibrancy over the whole day. Walker do you know how many people live per square mile in New York City?

  • George Mattei

    I liked the renderings they had in the park’s conceptual plan better-more stone-looked nicer.

    I would have liked to see some of the sightline from the park to High Street preserved.

    I know that Capitol South wants to recoup some of the cost, so selling virtually the whole west side of the park for $2 million gives them greater return. Also, I imagine that the developer’s proforma relies on all of the commercial space to succeed.

    However, I am concerned that the new buildings will block off the park from High Street too much.

    I would have liked to see two taller buildings, maybe 9-10 stories each, with the very southern end of the space left open for better sight lines from High Street. You would get a little less commercial, but otherwise you would have everything else proposed AND better sightlines.

  • @Pickerington_Kyle – Wikipedia knows how many people live per square mile in every city. ;)

  • NEOBuckeye

    Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Cincinnati are all seeing residential growth in their downtown districts. But none of it is even remotely close to what Columbus is adding and is planning for.

  • columbusmike

    For those of you who think a 6-story building isn’t high enough, just go downtown, look at a 6-story building and imagine it on the commons. It’s going to be a pretty tall building. Approximately the height of the Lazarus building.

  • dudeman

    I love the current green space and open feel. Do we really want to squeeze more people into downtown like sardines? More people, more pollution, more noise, more traffic. Where are all the “green” people when you need them? Seems like a Coleman “bait and switch” deal.

  • Downtown was once home to 50,000 people. Currently it’s closer to 12,000. There’s plenty of room for more.

    More people in urban areas does not necessarily mean more pollution as there are more walkable, bikeable and busable options for getting around. Urban living in general is more “green” than most suburban alternatives.

  • verydude

    at least some french balconies and a little more architectural interest please… higher style for our High Street. But love that they’re midrise instead of the lower rise and that they give us some life downtown!

  • verydude

    oh… and that they are mixed use… thank you thank you thank you for that! It gives us a little more street interest and reason for being there

  • kellynwilson

    I think this is a terrible idea! The Columbus Commons is such a beautiful open, grassy area in the middle of a concrete jungle, and they’re just going to add more expensive apartments to cover the space so you can’t see it from High St. I think it’s a shame, the park is beautiful, and now it will feel like it’s only for those living in those apartments. I also think Columbus is building too many expensive apartments downtown, they need to focus on filling those completely first, before building more!

  • 1. The park might “feel” more closed off from High, but it still open to the public for all to enjoy.

    2. Downtown apartment occupancy rates are pretty close to 100%. Same goes for neighborhoods that surround Downtown. There’s a huge shortage of rental units right now.

  • MHJ

    I think this is great…BUT I recently read this spring article on the project:

    And was disturbed by this quote:

    Capitol South has not studied the market for retail property on South High Street, Worley said, but he said that, anecdotally, it’s growing, and young professionals are creating a demand for urban dwellings.

    With the persistent retail vacancies right across the street from this project, Capitol South seriously doesn’t know whether there’s a market for even more retail space right across the street? The residential will obviously fill up quickly, but how is it that Capitol South doesn’t even have a sense of the market in this critical area? Have they done one since? Without a market analysis, how can they possibly have a retail strategy? That’s really troubling to me.

metro categories