Columbus 2016 Year in Review
While many people agreed that 2016 was not a great year overall, it was certainly a busy year. Here in Columbus we saw many interesting breaking news stories, and Columbus Underground worked to provide you with updates on a wide assortment of topics. Below, you’ll find some of the biggest highlights from the year, with even more to be found in separate articles on urban development and restaurants:
We took a deeper look at the Old Oaks neighborhood to see how it has transformed recently. The LC Pavilion was renamed EXPRESS LIVE! and the South Campus Gateway was renamed Gateway. Crimson Cup launched their new innovation lab while Cafe Brioso opened their new roastery and shop. Former CCAD president Denny Griffith passed away. Andrew Ginther was sworn in as Mayor of Columbus.
The Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority announced that it would be selling the iconic Bollinger Tower in the Short North for potential conversion into a new hotel for the neighborhood. Not far from there, Robert Mason re-launched his brick-and-mortar operations in a new location. New Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther gave his first State of the City address. The Columbus Crew SC got a new jersey, but not everyone was a fan. A new event was announced for Gay Street: The Sunlight Market. And we took a look at the new digs for the rapidly growing Glenn Avenue Soap Company.
In March, Lyft returned to the Columbus market after a short absence. The North Market Apron Gala celebrated its 20th anniversary. Historic aviator Jerrie Mock touched down at the John Glenn Airport. New cookware store Quinci Emporium opened its doors in the Short North. There were a lot of moves announced, including Sew to Speak heading to Worthington, Used Kids relocating to Old North, and Camelot Cellars hopping over to OTE. Fifth Avenue saw the opening of the city’s first dog play cafe and Downtown saw the opening of another bar/arcade. And last but not least, Brent Warren took a deeper look at the ongoing evolution of Olde Towne East.
As always, we kicked off April with a couple of April Fool’s Day jokes. The City of Grandview Heights announced that a new municipal pool was coming soon while the City of Columbus announced a new Downtown park was in the works. The AIDS Resource Center was rebranded and relaunched as Equitas Health. Downtown homeless nonprofit Faith Mission celebrated 50 years of service. CU hosted the first ever Best Bites: Brunch festival. A big update got under way at the Franklin Park Conservatory. And a deteriorating parking garage was closed Downtown.
In May, COTA launched their new Airport-to-Downtown shuttle service. The revamped Grandview Theater & Drafthouse re-opened. The 25-story Millennial Tower project was first announced to the public. Franklinton champion Jim Sweeney announced that he was resigning after 15 years at the Franklinton Development Association. CU hosted its annual Urban Living Tour with over 700 attendees, while also closing the messageboards later in the month. The Short North’s Union Cafe celebrated 20 years in business. We took a quick road trip to see the new Canal Market District grand opening in Downtown Newark. And Columbus State announced a new culinary school project.
The month of June was an incredibly busy one in Columbus. The PRIDE Festival and Parade celebrated its 35th anniversary. Columbus City Schools wrapped up months of facilities meetings with the unveiling of a final plan. Meanwhile, a report revealed that charter schools are failing across Ohio. The city of Newark made progress on a large-scale Downtown development project. OSU announced big plans to renovate the area surrounding 15th and High. Columbus Underground relocated to new offices on Gay Street and hosted the first-ever Best Bites: BBQ event. The Columbus Main Library re-opened following a major renovation. Classic restaurant The Refectory celebrated 40 years in business. Columbus won the national Smart Cities grant, scoring $50 million for new transportation projects. And last but not least, CU writer Lauren Sega penned an in-depth piece exploring the infant mortality crisis affecting Columbus and Franklin County.
Columbus Underground kicked off July by winning seven awards from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalism. A controversial parade float at Doo Dah sparked some community criticism. Bexley’s Drexel Theatre re-opened following renovations. The first-ever PromoWest Fest got off to a roaring start. The folks at Transit Columbus issued a warning about driverless cars trumping mass transit. The Columbus Metropolitan Club hosted a forum discussing the role of PACT on the Near East Side. Columbus Underground partnered with Tim Fulton to launch the new weekly podcast series known as The Confluence Cast. Ongoing Downtown construction projects were tallied up to a total of a half a billion dollars, while other realtors and developers worked to serve the middle-class housing market. Columbus Underground hosted the first-ever Healthy Bites festival. And last but not least, the political season got local when both Trump and Clinton scheduled Columbus visits.
In August, it was announced the local art studio TacocaT would close, but would be soon replaced by Blockfort. Columbus voters rejected a ward council system by voting down Issue 1. Work officially began on the new BRT line on Cleveland Avenue. Writer Brent Warren profiled a new tiny-home business in Columbus. Two very different new grocery stores opened their doors: Giant Eagle Market District Express in Bexley and Oats & Barley in the Short North. We checked in at Bridge Park in Dublin for a photo and video tour of the construction progress. Columbus Underground hosted the second Best Bites: Tacos festival at Strongwater. A west-side fire consumed a warehouse housing a lot of refrigerated food and beer. Classic restaurant Alana’s announced that it was for sale. The Downtown Peanut Shoppe celebrated 80 years in business. And The Columbus Foundation closed out the month with The Big Table, a community conversation event where over 5,000 people participated to gather and discuss the city’s most important issues.
September was another very month throughout the Columbus region. Middle West Spirits re-opened their expanded and renovated production facility in the Short North. We took a quick road-trip to Cincinnati to check out their new Streetcar. Target announced that it would be opening a small-format store at 16th and High in the University District. Medical marijuana was officially made legal in Ohio. We surveyed our readers on what it means to buy local, and the results were varied. 13-year old Tyre King was shot and killed by a police officer, and protestors disrupted a City Council meeting afterward. COSI announced that dinosaurs would be returning in 2017. BrewDog hosted their first big event in Canal Winchester at their new US headquarters. Columbus hosted the national CEOs for Cities conference. And last but not least, a new improv theater was announced Downtown.
In October of 2016, Rogue Fitness opened up the first phase of their massive new facility in the Milo-Grogan neighborhood. The Eat Purr Love Cat Cafe officially opened its doors in Clintonville. A new fashion incubator was announced in Downtown Columbus. Buffalo Exchange announced their first Central Ohio location. CU Writer Brent Warren explored the future of development and building height in the Short North. Demolition began at the former Long’s Bookstore building. Chicago deep-dish pizza shop Giordano’s announced a Columbus location coming in 2017. The Columbus Crew SC began surveying stakeholders about the location of a new stadium. A new strip mall development was approved for Grandview Heights. Columbus Underground readers voted on the best architecture of the year. Used Kids Records celebrated 30 years in business. Columbus Underground hosted its third annual Best Bites: Burgers festival. And Short North restaurant Haiku announced that it would be closing after 18 years.
November was a big month in the US, as well as in Columbus. Voters selected Donald Trump as the next president of the United States on Election Day while locals passed levies for Columbus City Schools and COTA. Several days later, locals protested the election results. COSI announced a new CEO. A new Downtown retail incubator called POP was announced. The final Clampdown party was held at Hounddog’s. More Trump protests were held in Columbus. Locals protested the Dakota Pipeline. We got a sneak peek at the new Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports in Hilliard. Morgan Spurlock’s Holy Chicken restaurant turned out to be something different from what we all expected. The first-ever Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival kicked off at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. Dessert boutique MMELO opened their Downtown store to the public. Nine people were injured in an attack at OSU, which made national news. And one more protest took place Downtown (check out more photos here and here).
In December, we’ve published a whole lot of “Best of 2016” lists and recaps, but before all of that there was a lot of other news. Plank’s Bier Garten caught fire, but is being repaired. We lost several local residents, including John Glenn, Kojo Kamau and Reese Neader. Columbus Underground hosted the first ever Columbus Coffee Festival to a sold-out crowd. CU Writer Lauren Sega published an update on infant mortality, an interesting look at what abortion escorts deal with on a daily basis in their line of work, and launched the new “Grassroots” series focused on local civic groups. Franklinton restaurant The Florentine closed their doors in December, after 71 years in business. More protestors took to the streets as the electoral college casted their votes for Trump. Locals learned that Columbus is being left behind in the plan for Chicago-to-Columbus high speed rail. New ideas to develop the North Market parking lot were unveiled. Cleveland’s Platform Brewing launched their Columbus operations. And speaking of Cleveland, The Browns announced they were cancelling plans to build a Columbus-based training camp facility.
What were the most interesting articles for you this year? Leave a comment below!