15th and High Update: More Demolitions, Utility Work on High Street Starting Soon
It’s been a little over two years since OSU first unveiled its 15th and High plan, calling for a transformation of the area that would include multiple new mixed-use buildings, a boutique hotel, a parking garage, a redesigned Pearl Alley, and a new public square.
Columbus Underground recently sat down with Erin Prosser of Campus Partners, the OSU-affiliated non-profit that has taken the lead on the project, to lay out the current state of the nine-acre redevelopment. Here’s where the project stands:
- A three-story apartment and office building on E. 16th Avenue has been completed, an early piece of the puzzle that was necessary to enable future development.
- The Wellington, a six-story apartment building with underground parking and first-floor retail, is currently under construction on the east side of High, between 16th and 17th avenues. The building is on track to be completed by August of 2018 (but the planned urban Target store could potentially open before then).
- A number of demolitions have taken place elsewhere within the nine-acre footprint of the overall development, including the former FedEx building on 15th and the former Long’s Bookstore on the southeast corner of 15th and High. A handful of additional demolitions between now and the summer will be necessary in order to clear staging areas for the next phase of work.
- More construction fencing will be going up, probably before the end of March, restricting pedestrian access to High Street from the neighborhood along E. 16th. Signs and sidewalk decals will highlight alternate routes along 15th or 17th for walkers heading to campus.
- Also starting later this month, portions of High Street will be closed between 13th and 17th to allow for the construction of a new storm sewer line under the street. The work will be done in sections of about 300 feet at a time, with a travel lane in each direction maintained for the duration of the project. The new line, which will eliminate the large puddles that now form along that stretch of High Street during a heavy rain, will be completed by the end of August.
- The new line under High Street will take some of the pressure off of the existing sewer line under Pearl Alley, which is made of brick and has always functioned as a combined storm and sanitary sewer. That line will be repaired and re-lined as a part of the project. Utility lines that currently run overhead along Pearl will also be buried.
“The next 18 months, it’s not the fun, vertical stuff, but it’s really critical, and it will get the 100-year old infrastructure where it needs to be,” said Prosser.
The second phase of infrastructure work – which will include sidewalk improvements, the realignment of 15th Avenue (creating the space for the public square), and the reopening of 16th Avenue to High Street – won’t start until July of 2018 at the earliest.
The phone calls are still coming in from developers interested in building the hotel that will look out onto the square and across to OSU’s campus, said Prosser, but no definite timeline for putting out a request for proposals for that building (or others) has been established.
She also said that OSU is the most likely tenant for the vast majority of the 300,000 square feet of office space slated for High Street south of 15th.
As for the impending inconveniences caused by the utility work, mailings and emails will be going out to inform students, faculty and staff of the changes.
For more information, see www.campuspartners.org.