Over $1 Billion in New Development Proposed in Downtown Columbus
"This is probably the most activity I've seen in Downtown in a couple of decades." — Marc Conte
The Downtown real estate market shows few signs of slowing down, according to the latest report from the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District. Even though $116 million in new development projects were completed in 2016, there’s a collective $734 million still under construction at this moment, and another $1 billion in development still in the pipeline.
“The development in Downtown Columbus — as I think everyone can see — is very strong right now,” stated Marc Conte, Deputy Director of Research, Planning & Facilities at Capital Crossroads. “We’re seeing a lot of new residential, we’re seeing a little bit of new office, and we’re seeing quite a few boutique hotels proposed and under construction.”
The largest of the individual Downtown projects are institutional or governmental in some capacity. The proposed reconstruction of the Interstate 70 & 71 interchange is an $845 million project on its own, although it includes a lot of city-level infrastructure work, such as new sidewalks, neighborhood bridges, lighting and other decorative elements. Two of the largest projects currently under construction include the $125 million expansion and upgrade to the Columbus Convention Center, and the $60 million Coleman Government Center.
Large private sector developments include the $90 million Two25 Commons building that recently began construction, and the $60 million Millennial Tower that was proposed last year. Those two projects along with many smaller ones add up to a total of around 1,400 residential units under construction with another 733 proposed for development.
“Those numbers don’t include anything in the neighborhoods surrounding Downtown,” clarified Conte, pointing out that development in areas like the Short North and Franklinton are tracked separately. “The Downtown population is now around 8,100 and I think we’ll pass the 10,000 mark sometime in 2019. I thought it was going to be sooner than that, but we’ve had some projects moving slower through the pipeline than expected.”
The Downtown office market continues to perform well overall with a 12 percent vacancy rate for Class A and Class B office space. The suburban market in Columbus currently has a 10.9 percent vacancy rate. Conte pointed out that one of the biggest challenge with the Downtown market is filling older office space in areas like Capital Square, where access to parking is very limited.
“What we’re hearing from leasing offices is that there’s just enough parking to bring in more tenants,” said Conte. “We’re about 4,000 parking spaces short right now, but we want to shift more people to transit, walking and biking. If we could double our transit ridership for our Downtown workforce — from five percent to ten percent — that would free up around 2,500 to 3,000 parking spaces.”
The new report also indicates that while Downtown retail has yet to make a full resurgence, there are several new retailers that have come online in the past year and more opportunities on the way. New businesses have emerged on East Long Street and South High Street, and Conte sees new opportunities coming soon to North High Street once construction is completed on multiple mixed-use projects between Gay Street and Long Street.
All data in the report was compiled from the calendar year of 2016. That means that new development projects announced in 2017 are not included in this reports statistics, such as the $500 million plan to redevelop the 21-acre Scioto Peninsula, or the yet-to-be-finalized North Market parking lot redevelopment, which could represent a $100 to $120 million project.
To read the full report, CLICK HERE (PDF).
Learn more about the State of Downtown from the recent Columbus Metropolitan Club forum: