Historic Downtown Power Plant Building May Be Redeveloped
The historic Columbus Municipal Light Plant building located at 555 West Nationwide Boulevard may soon get a new lease on life. The Columbus Department of Development has issued a request for proposals for the redevelopment of this West Arena District site.
“We had a few people express interest in the property,” explained Steven Schoney, Director of the Department of Development., Director of the Department of Development for the City of Columbus. “So we wanted to get out there and see what kind of interest there is.”
Schoeny says that the RFP calls for the historic structure to be restored and reused, rather than demolished for a new build. He said the city has no specific preference on whether the redevelopment is commercial, residential, retail or industrial.
“We’ll probably get proposals on all of those things and evaluate them all,” he stated. “We’re taking a very open attitude towards this, so we’re open to different ideas. It’s a tough site, so it will all depend on a developer being able to make it work from a financial standpoint.”
In an in-depth interview last year, Schoeny elaborated on long-term development strategies:
“Development today is about building places where companies can attract the people that they need and reach their customers. In the City of Columbus, we have amazing neighborhoods and a vibrant urban core. We also have more suburban employment areas, like Easton, Polaris and Rickenbacker, that allow for bigger footprints for facilities. Over the next 20 years, the key for Columbus will be ensuring that we have urban neighborhoods with flourishing commercial areas that attract the talented workforce that employers need. Those neighborhoods need to be integrated with and connected to our employment centers downtown and around the city.”
The RFP doesn’t include development fronting the river, which Schoeny says is due to power lines, infrastructure, flood plain issues and other complications. He anticipates that the riverfront area may remain recreational with possible future bike trail connections.
“The site is a little isolated right now, but that will change over time,” he added.
The RFP has a deadline for submission in early May, and a review committee would be assembled afterward to move pretty quickly through the selection process. Schoeny was not able to elaborate further at this point in time as to which development companies have submitted proposals or expressed interest in the site.
Nationwide Realty Investors (NRI) owns undeveloped land nearby that is planned as a future westward extension for the Arena District. In an interview from 2012, NRI President Brian Ellis stated the following about the future of this area:
“We see that land predominantly as being used for residential development. We have enough ground over there that we think we can create a really nice neighborhood that will have its own feel. … I guess I would say that I think it will be a little lower density than what we’ve seen in the heart of The Arena District. Really, we’d like to keep the price points a little more affordable.”
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