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12 Ideas Laid Out for Downtown 2010 Strategic Plan

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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The second public meeting for the 2010 Downtown Columbus Strategic Plan took place this evening, and the presentation focused on 12 ideas proposed as possible catalytic projects that could reshape our Downtown over the next decade. Those ideas ranged from alternative transit implementation to river dam removal to the development of a new sports field house.

The public meeting was kicked off by City Councilmember Andrew Ginther and led by Keith Myers from MSI Design. “Sometimes Columbus suffers from too much Midwest Modesty,” said Myers shortly after taking the podium. “We need to check that tonight and instead be inspirational.”

Myers went on to outline the 10 Principles that were used to lead the process in assembling ideas out of the hundreds of pieces of input gathered from the first public meeting as well as online over the past month:

  1. Connect Uses, Districts and People
  2. Maintain Downtown’s Status as the Employment Center of the Region
  3. Embrace Transit as a Competitive Advantage
  4. Control Building Form, Design and the Quality of the Public Realm
  5. Increase the Amount and Variety of Downtown Housing
  6. Continue to Develop Signature Parks and Public Spaces
  7. Invest in Arts and Culture
  8. Prioritize Sustainability and the Greening of Downtown Columbus
  9. Continue Collaboration Between the Public and Private Sectors
  10. Celebrate the Urban Experience that only Exists Downtown

After those principles were laid out, the 12 individual projects were explained in detail with the assistance of maps, renderings and similar projects in other cities.

1. “The Southeast Gateway“- With the reconfiguration of the 70/71 Split and the new jobs and development emerging at Children’s Hospital and Grant Hospital, two new Gateways between Downtown and the Schumacher Place area could serve to connect the southeastern end of Downtown at Parsons Avenue and at Grant Avenue. A new mixed-use neighborhood featuring office, residential and retail would emerge bounded loosely by Main, Grant and 70/71.

2. “Topiary Park Infill” – The parking lots bordering Topiary Park to the north and east have been targeted as a location to consolidate parking into a garage that could accommodate daytime office traffic as well as nighttime residential traffic that would be densely developed atop the garages.

3. “The Creative Campus” – Using the new Columbus Museum of Art expansion as leverage, create a development plan that would consolidate neighborhood parking for the CMA, CCAD, the Jefferson Center and other neighborhood uses to fill in surrounding parking lots with infill residential and retail development. Similar parking garage consolidation was mentioned for lots at Columbus State between Spring & Long that would include additional mixed use development in front or on top of the garages.

4. “Broad Street” – (Rendering Below) Taking a cue from historic photos of Broad Street, this thoroughfare would undergo a “road diet” and shrink from eight travel lanes to five and would receive a dual-median streetscaping similar to it’s original historic layout. The new tree-lined travel areas would be intended for bike and pedestrian use, be constructed with permeable surfaces and rain gardens for making the street as “green” as possible.

5. “High Street” – (Rendering at the top of the page) The focus would be to restore High Street as a commercial corridor. Restore on-street metered parking for retail use, add new green streetscaping for beautification, divert some bus traffic to a transit station for transfers and plan streets for light rail or streetcar usage.

6. “Downtown Transit Station” – Attention was brought to the poor use of Broad & High as a bus transfer zone with poor bus shelter conditions, and noise and congestion brought on by regular bus lineups that clog the area with five to eight buses at a time. A new, modern bus terminal station would service people in a cleaner, indoor environment. Attention was drawn to multiple examples of modern bus terminals in other cities including Durham, NC’s New Multimodal Bus Station (pictured to the right).

7. “3C Corridor Transit Station” – Placement of the 3C Corridor transit station was proposed at the Convention Center bridge over Convention Center Drive on the east side of High Street. The station would service 3C riders from the tracks below and local bus, streetcar or light rail riders on High Street on the main level. Emphasis was given to making this a world-class facility to welcome visitors arriving into Downtown via high-speed rail.

8. “Biking Infrastructure” – New bike facilities were proposed for locations all throughout Downtown which include bike storage, bike rentals, shower facilities and other bike-friendly amenities.

9. “Downtown Field House” – Some data was shown to highlight the growing use of Convention Center space as indoor sports facilities and provide information on the money that it generates for the city. To capitalize on this, a fully equipped Field House was proposed as an addition to the Convention Center that would serve both conventioneers and residents alike for everything from volleyball tournaments to indoor soccer leagues to gymnastics competitions. The Field House location was proposed on the current large Convention Center Parking Lot located to the east of the Convention Center between Third and Fourth Streets.

10. “Pedestrian/Bike Bridge” – To provide connectivity between the Arena District and Franklinton, a pedestrian and bike bridge is proposed to connect existing paths on both sides of the river between Vets Memorial and North Bank Park.

11. “The Scioto Peninsula” – The entire portion of Franklinton located east of the railroad tracks was proposed as one large new mixed use neighborhood development. The riverfront would be re-purposed into an arts & science river walk promenade anchored by COSI. The southern end of the peninsula would become home to a new collaborative research center. The existing parking lot areas for COSI would be consolidated into parking garages and filled with “Podium and Tower” that would keep streets walkable and human-scaled while still adding residential density to the neighborhood. The entire neighborhood would have a focus on sustainability.

12. “River Greenway” – (Rendering Below) This multi-part idea started as a proposal to remove the Main Street Dam and return the Scioto River to a flowing, functional river at its original width and depth. The plan would likely lower the water level 5 to 7 feet and narrow it to around half its current width, and add 45 acres of new green/park land along the banks. The idea was then expanded to also remove the Fifth Street dam so that the river would be restored from OSU to Downtown and could function for kayaking, canoeing and rafting. The idea was then expanded again to remove all five dams between Highbanks Metropark and the Scioto Audubon Metropark to create over 15 miles of a new river greenway that would be functional for recreation and environmentally cleaner due to the return to a natural flow.

The meeting was wrapped up with a round of applause and attendees were then encouraged to visit stations displaying all 12 ideas to provide feedback, criticism, and other forms of input.

Additional input will be sought via online surveys that can be found online at each of the individual idea pages here: www.downtowncolumbus.com/plan/ideas. Once this round of input has been gathered, alterations will be made and the final proposed plan will be presented on May 25th at a location TBA.

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