The redevelopment of the Scioto River was announced today as a new catalytic project for Downtown Columbus. However, if that’s not enough big news, then you’ll be pleased to know that the planning initiative for the next big project to follow was also announced.
“The Mayor, City Council and the Franklin County Commissioners have asked us to not only look at the river itself, but to look at the Scioto Peninsula and to come up with a plan for its redevelopment,” said Columbus Downtown Development Corporation President and CEO Guy Worley.
The Scioto Peninsula is a 56-acre piece of land located in Franklinton immediately west of the Scioto River, which has long been underutilized. This land is currently home to both COSI and Veteran’s Memorial, as well as a massive sea of surface parking lot space. All land is owned by either The City of Columbus or Franklin County, creating a unique opportunity for urban redevelopment.
“I think that it currently feels like the Scioto Penninsula is not a peninsula but an island,” said Worley. “It’s very disconnected form Downtown, but adding 33 acres of new greenspace will help bring the penninsula into Downtown.
In 2010, the Downtown Strategic Plan proposed the idea for redeveloping this area with a dense mixed-use continuation of Downtown. While the official planning effort has yet to begin, Worley anticipates that these 55 acres will see a variety of uses.
“This should be some type of mixed use opportunity that includes cultural to commercial, and residential to retail uses,” he added.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the railroad tracks, additional planning efforts for East Franklinton have already been underway over the past several months. These plans call for the renovation of industrial warehouses into artist studios, and the infill of vacant lots with affordable housing aimed at young professionals.
“Redevelopment of this amazing site would absolutely benefit everything we’re doing in East Franklinton,” said Jim Sweeney, executive director of the Franklinton Development Association. “Our first-ring neighborhoods draw energy from Downtown, but that’s not yet been the case for Franklinton because of the huge gaps, not only behind COSI but also in East Franklinton. We believe that when the peninsula area fills in, we’ll see more investment and people coming to the neighborhood.”
Worley describes the Scioto Peninsula and the redeveloped river front as the “front door” to Franklinton and expects the new plan to compliment all adjacent community efforts.
“There’s lot of ideas out there and we’re going to go through a process similar to the Downtown Strategic Plan for this parcel of land,” he added. “We think this is a great parcel and it should be a destination.”
The planning initiative for The Scioto Peninsula is expected to begin this spring. Input will be gathered from the public, community groups, neighborhoods, developers and area stakeholders, with a finalized plan expected for public presentation before the end of the year.