Gil Ligg said:
So they spent $20 million to demolish the City Center and put a mediocre park in its place instead of renovate it into an awesome mixed-use building? Wow, that sounds like some great city planning and some great leadership. Not.
Many other cities would have let the corporate mall owner to have the property sit vacant. Do a google search for "empty Downtown mall" and you can find many cities struggling to figure out what to do with similar situations. Close to home, there's the Dayton Arcade has been closed to the public since 1990 (22 years!). It's a beautiful building that I hope never gets torn down, but it's an embarrassing eyesore to have it just sitting there completely unused. Without the intervention of city leaders, the City Center Mall would most likely be sitting there boarded up today and for many more years to come. And it's was a much uglier structure than the Dayton Arcade.
While much of Columbus Commons is flat tree-less grass, it was built that way because the longer-term plan was to allow development in certain places when the private market was ready to support it:
Meanwhile, the portions of the park that are permanent (the carousel area, food vendors, planted walkways, stage area, etc are all actually pretty nice IMHO. And the event programming for The Commons is top notch, ranging from outdoor theatre to classical music to rock concerts to food truck festivals to yoga classes and more. The park is incredibly well used.
And I'd say its a positive sign of success that the longer-term plans for redevelopment of the site have been able to move forward more quickly. City leaders projected 10 years before any private development would be constructed on site and we've already got new seven-story mixed-use buildings under construction there with another one coming soon right across the street. More retail development has been spurred surrounding the park as well including MoJoe, deNOVO, Manifesto, etc.
While I still feel it's a shame to have not been able to reuse the old building, the new plan is working out better (and faster) than what a lot of cities have been able to do.