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21 Acre Downtown Development Plan Unveiled

Brent Warren Brent Warren 21 Acre Downtown Development Plan UnveiledRendering by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, provided by CDDC.
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The Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC) has unveiled its long-awaited plan to develop 21 acres of city-owned and county-owned land on the Scioto Peninsula. The vision is of a dense urban neighborhood, with over 1,500 residential units, 180,000 square feet of retail, 240 hotel rooms, and as much as 840,000 square feet of office space.

Here’s what those numbers translate to in terms of actual buildings:

  • Five or more mid-rise residential buildings, each eight to 12 stories tall.
  • Two large residential towers, likely featuring for-sale condominiums, each of which could reach a height of 30 stories or more.
  • One or two boutique hotels.
  • Ground-level retail in most of the residential and office buildings.
  • Approximately seven office buildings, each 10 to 12 stories.
  • Two large parking garages along the railroad tracks to serve the office buildings.

“This is the largest development in the history of our city,” said Guy Worley, President and CEO of the CDDC, who presented the plan to the CDDC board yesterday afternoon. “We truly believe this will be the next great neighborhood, and not just in the city… it will be a destination that attracts people from all over the state and from other parts of the country.”

CDDC will begin marketing the site today, sending out a request for qualifications to nearly 200 local and national developers. The next step is to narrow that down to a short list of three to five developers, who will submit full proposals for the site. Worley said he hopes to have a master developer selected be early summer to present to Franklin County and the City of Columbus. Construction could start as soon as next spring.

Graham Wyatt, Principal of Robert A.M. Stern Architects, was hired by the CDDC to develop the plan. It was based on a market report completed by Hunden Strategic Partners that estimated how much residential and commercial space could be optimally accommodated on the site.

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The new buildings are meant to complement the peninsula’s cultural and recreational amenities — the Scioto Greenways, the National Veteran’s Museum, (scheduled for completion in July 2018), new exhibit space at COSI curated by the American Museum of Natural History, a new park over an underground parking garage directly to the west of COSI (to be completed by November of this year), and a to-be-determined civic building south of the new park.

The plan calls for the first row of buildings, across Belle Street from the park, to be a mix of residential, hotel and office. Retail will be concentrated on a new, pedestrian-oriented street (labelled Main Street in the plan) that would run through the heart of the new district.

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Early iterations of the plan called for retail along Belle Street, but Wyatt made a strong argument for concentrating the stores — which will likely be mostly restaurants, bars, and other entertainment-related fare — along both sides of a single street.

A pedestrian bridge over the Scioto River is also shown, which Worley described as “an old idea with a lot of merit… it would be great to someday have a connection to the Arena District and the Short North.”

Worley said that the residential buildings would all park themselves, with interior garages covered by green roofs. The apartments and condos would all be market-rate.

The renderings are meant to give a sense of the scale and land use plan – the architecture of individual buildings will likely change as a developer is chosen to lead the project and further work is done to turn the plan into reality.

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“This is going to be a unique destination, it’s not going to look like the Arena District or Easton,” Worley said, adding that, “it will have a lot of character from what is already there… it’s really important for it to connect into Franklinton, which  has a lot of momentum. We want this to also be a catalyst for future development there.”

Worley said that he hopes to present the plan to the Downtown Commission later this month, the first chance for the public to weigh in on what could be a years-long development process.

As for the financial terms of the deal, Worley declined to give details, but said that it would be subject to approval by both the city and county.

“We don’t know what deal looks like,” he said. “This is probably a ten year effort overall, and we’re interested in finding the most qualified developer, someone with experience doing large scale developments of this nature. Once we find that, we can start to talk about the deal.”

For more information, visit www.columbusddc.com/projects/scioto-peninsula/master-developer.

All renderings by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, provided by CDDC.

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