Before and After: Short North
Cities change, and nowhere in Columbus has that been more evident than in the Short North. Even if you’re familiar with the general story – the transformation from a blighted and neglected neighborhood to one where luxury apartments can rent for well over $3,000 a month – it is still easy to forget how different High Street looked even just a few years ago.
What follows is an attempt at documenting some of those changes; a look at some of the newer developments, along with pictures of what was in that spot before they were constructed.
It is not a comprehensive list of every building in the neighborhood – we tried to include as many of the recent developments as we could, as well as a few of the older projects for which we were able to find good “before” images.
For this article, we start at the Cap and work our way up to First Avenue (be sure to check back soon for a second installment, featuring the northern half of the neighborhood).
Pedestrians traveling from the southern edge of the Short North to the northern edge of Downtown these days may not even realize that they are crossing over a major interstate. That’s because of The Cap at Union Station, which transformed the existing, utilitarian High Street bridge over I-670 – complete with narrow sidewalks and chain link fencing on either side – into a row of storefronts designed to resemble the Union Station arcade that once stood nearby.
Completed in 2004, the project required the building of a significant platform over the highway to support the weight of the new buildings. It received national attention at the time, and served as a model for other cities looking to heal the scars created by the construction of highways directly through urban neighborhoods.
Originally proposed by the Pizzuti Companies in 2008, work started on the two facets of the project in August of 2013. A hotel – Le Méridien Columbus, The Joseph – now sits on the east side of High Street, with a parking garage and a six-story office building (with an Anthropolgie store on the ground floor) across the street.
711 North High
Another city–owned parking lot was replaced by this nine-story office building developed by the Wood Companies and Schiff Capital Group. The building now holds co-working and traditional office space, as well as Del Mar SoCal Kitchen and the Lincoln Social Rooftop.
The Carriage House Building
In the 1980s, the Wood Companies renovated many of the buildings that now serve as anchors for the neighborhood, including this block along the east side of High Street, between Brickel and Lincoln Streets.
Graduate Columbus Hotel
Bollinger Tower provided low-income housing in the heart of the Short North from 1985 to 2017, when the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority sold the building, offering its nearly 100 residents vouchers to move to affordable housing elsewhere in the region. The building now holds the Graduate Columbus Hotel, which opened in 2019 after a full renovation that included a ground-level addition and two enormous murals on the building’s northern and southern walls.
800 North High
The southeast corner of Hubbard and High was home to the popular Haiku restaurant for 18 years. A proposal to build a ten-story mixed-use building on the site emerged in 2016, and after going through several design iterations, work on the project started in late 2017. Moxy Hotel opened in the building last fall.
The Hub Short North
A large, mixed-use development called Ibiza was proposed for the northeast corner of Hubbard and High in 2006. That project ran into some well-chronicled financial and legal difficulties and was eventually abandoned. The site was acquired by Wagenbrenner Development (now Thrive Companies) and Elford Development in 2011, and The Hub – a five-story apartment building with retail on the ground floor – opened in 2013. Attached to the building via an elevated walkway is a parking garage with 250 public spaces.
Hubbard Park Place
Hubbard Park Place is a seven-story, mixed-use development on the Victorian Village side of High Street. Construction wrapped up on the building in 2019. The one-acre parcel that the building sits on held a parking lot for years.
Grandview Mercantile was a popular retail destination in the Short North from 2002 to 2017, when the building was sold to The Pizzuti Companies. The local developer initially planned to build a 12-story building on the site, but the plan that eventually got approved involved two shorter buildings on an expanded footprint. The Mercantile building was demolished, along with a single-story office complex next door. A four-story office and retail building replaced the Mercantile, while work continues on a six-story residential building to the west. The store moved into the former Giant Eagle at 1451 W. Fifth Ave.
886 North High
A suburban-style United Dairy Farmers and its parking lot occupied this prime Short North corner for over 30 years. Next door to the UDF was another parking lot, featuring crumbling asphalt and a chain-linked fence. The two parcels together were redeveloped into a four-story building featuring a mix of office and retail space. The good news for fans of milk shakes and convenience store goods is that a new UDF opened on the ground floor of the new building in the fall of 2018.