The beginning of summer is always exciting, but this year we have the added joy of seeing many of our Downtown investments bear fruit.
Columbus Commons is now open to the public and is now home to many musical, cultural and family activities. The Scioto Mile as well as an improved Bicentennial Park will open July 7, attracting new visitors and activities to our Downtown riverfront.
These new additions to our Downtown will complement what has already become a vibrant neighborhood with new residential opportunities, shopping and dining options.
This is important because Downtown is the economic engine of the city and the entire region, home to about 20 percent of the Columbus jobs, generating $100 million yearly in income taxes.
None of this would have been possible without the support and enthusiasm from our residents, including the writers and readers of Columbus Underground who are passionate about our city and its core.
However, as Downtown’s momentum continues, we must continue our attention to other Columbus neighborhoods. Columbus’ strength has always flowed from all our residential areas, and we must continue to invest in them.
That’s why we’re transforming Weinland Park, replacing the abandoned Columbus Coated Plant with 500 new houses, the first 31 of which will be constructed this summer.
That’s why we’re transforming the neighborhood around University Hospital East, partnering with the Ohio State University and the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority to spend millions over the next decade to improve the quality of life for those residents.
That’s why we’re transforming the South Side, building a new health center where the original Schottenstein Department Store once stood and investing in 40 new housing opportunities on Innis Avenue, which is now littered with vacant and abandoned houses.
And it’s why we’re transforming American Addition, partnering with Columbus Housing Partnership to build 150 new homes and build new streets, alleys, waterlines, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and streetlights—all to a green, sustainable standard.
One of our most exciting neighborhood revitalization efforts is taking place just across the river from our Downtown, in our first neighborhood, Franklinton.
Improved access to Franklinton because of the new Main Street Bridge and the new Rich Street Bridge opens this area to new investment, new opportunities and new possibilities.
And we will explore these possibilities through a new partnership with the Franklinton Development Association, the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority and the Urban Smart Growth Company that will develop the foundation of an affordable live-work community tailored to the creative sector.
In doing so, we will market, incentivize and build an affordable neighborhood tailored for live-work housing, for artists, designers, performers, media, architects, engineers, techies, marketers and those in the advertising industry.
Just last month, we gathered for the demolition of the blighted, decayed, B&T Metals factory to make way for a plan that will market the area for creative business, retail and entertainment uses.
The Brookings Institute says that Columbus is one of the few cities in the country where recent college graduates have chosen to live as young professionals rather than move somewhere else. That’s good news since 115,000 college students in 26 colleges and universities live in Central Ohio.
This new creative live-work district will serve that market, creating a healthy, sustainable community connected to Downtown housing.
We hope Columbus Underground and its vast readership will support and even get involved in these and other neighborhood projects as we enjoy this summer and the rest of 2011.