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Over $1 Billion in New Development Proposed in Downtown Columbus

Walker Evans Walker Evans Over $1 Billion in New Development Proposed in Downtown ColumbusPhoto by Walker Evans.
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"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:

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  • Columbusite

    $845 million on a single freeway interchange. Between the 315/270 interchange, 23/270 interchange, 670/71 interchange, and now this, I wonder what else could have been done with all of that money.

    • RedStorm45

      Build an entire light rail system? Nahhhh.

  • Columbusite

    California’s parking cash out program is an interesting solution to downtown’s parking issue. Employers who provide free or subsidized parking also have to allow employees to opt out and take the benefit as cash.

    • Columbusite

      I have friends who work downtown who have free parking right next to their building. Even though some of them are pro transit, how can they possibly justify paying for a bus pass? The incentives are backward, and it shouldn’t be allowed.

  • RedStorm45

    Surprise, surprise. Mass transit hindering us from growth / full occupancy. Can’t continue to build parking garage after parking garage. The city needs to get serious and invest in more public transit options. Even connecting the immediate surrounding areas (Franklinton, German Village, Old Towne East, Italian Village/Short North/Victorian Village) would be a great start and open up parking spots downtown for commuters from farther out.

  • Amy Kesting

    Thank you for the shout-out, Marc! Indeed, our little block on Long Street is doing great. Having lots of parking around, especially meters, really helps. –Amy & Brett at Spoonful Records

  • JRemy

    They just constructed a crane last week on N. High St. just past Gay St. It was impressive to watch them assemble it and then amusing to see them climbing and testing it. On my drive in on Monday, I counted approximately 8 similar cranes from the Short North to Children’s Hospital. It really is quite a site to see! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/774310c9db5e0c02871fb1a00d7583a4b314f46c49c4c6e4d05a957a1b8ab847.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/013641888bcb977fd5bb2f2512eebaabb29c9ba89769c425b6645b6e44bd6659.jpg

    • Such a large crane for such a low building *forever disgruntled noises over height*

    • cucbus

      There are also three more cranes in the University District and more will probably be going up soon. There is also a crane at Mt. Carmel East and two cranes at the new hospital in Grove City. Last time I was in Dublin they had one crane up at Bridge Park. That brings the grand total of cranes to 15.

  • Amy Kesting

    It’s surprising that in your conversation about sugar, you never mention Hills Market Downtown. It’s right there. You’re right about online purchases shaping the Future of Retail. Another way to say it might be “Amazon is Death.” It will do what Walmart did to downtowns 30 years ago, except across the board to all businesses.

  • Jon

    It’s a little bit of a misleading title to say that there’s $1 billion of upcoming development when more than 4/5ths of that is for a highway project that won’t really do much of anything for Downtown.

  • Brett

    The $845 mil. For highway reconstruction isn’t going to help downtown much at all. There is not much point in including it in this type of discussion.

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