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Columbus 2017: Year in Review

Walker Evans Walker Evans Columbus 2017: Year in Review
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The wild ride that was 2017 is nearly over. Which means it’s time for our annual look back at the ups and downs of the past 365 days to chronicle and contextualize the year’s events. Below you’ll find a month-by-month breakdown of some of the biggest stories that shaped this year in Columbus.

BONUS: Tune into our “Year in Review” episode of The Confluence Cast (and subscribe via iTunes)!

January: Protests, Hockey & Retail Shakeups

The year kicked off with some bad news from local retailers, which included the closure of the Victorian Village Giant Eagle, all of The Andersons stores, as well as all The Limited stores. Meanwhile, something special was going on with our Blue Jackets.

Local brewery Seventh Son announced some major expansion plans and Downtown Columbus lost its main movie theater. The world’s oldest captive gorilla Colo passed away at the Columbus Zoo at age 60. We took some trips to Hocking Hills and to Washington D.C. The Ohio State University unveiled some major future-facing development plans.

CU staff writer Lauren Sega penned a piece on Brain Science and Mental Health (that went on to win a journalism award later in the year). And political protestors began to dominate the news locally with large-scale events at the John Glenn International Airport and at the Ohio Statehouse.

February: Immigration, Refugees and Desserts

In February, some details were unveiled on massive development projects, including a 20-acre site in Harrison West and a 21-acre site Downtown. Columbus took a stance on immigration when Mayor Andrew Ginther signed a pro-refuge executive order and locals created a new fund to support those efforts.

A 105-year old hot dog joint closed its doors (for now), as did a 15-month old restaurant that took a lot of people by surprise. A somewhat controversial tax incentive program was passed to the benefit of Easton Town Center. We also asked if Columbus was ready to embrace itself as a “Tech City”.

The Women’s Fund explained why more women need to be engaged in politics, and neighbors on the Near East Side discussed the value of preserving or demolishing two older buildings. Downtown gained a new artist studio space. It was also reported that Downtown had over $1 billion in new development in the wings. Last but not least, Columbus Underground hosted its third annual dessert festival to the sugar-coated delight of sweet treat fans.

March: Women, Tech & Never Built

As we headed toward springtime, Columbus Underground celebrated a big milestone: 15 years of service. New businesses blossomed like flowers, including the anticipated Cosecha Cocina and the new LeVeque hotel.

Women dominated the month of March (and the year as a whole), and we covered International Women’s Day as well as taking a closer look at local women leading the charge in the realm of technology. A Trump rally took place at the Statehouse and counter protestors also gathered.

CU Writer Brent Warren took a look at two planned projects never built in Columbus: The Serpent Mound Canopy over the Broad Street bridge and various other Scioto Peninsula development plans. We also took a look at some new shipping container apartments and a new approach to affordable housing. Last but not least, Franklin County officially became the most populated in the whole state of Ohio.

April: Jokes, Brunch and Serious News

From People’s Justice Project Facebook page.

As always, we kicked off the month of April with some Fool’s Day articles… the biggest being the Longaberger Brewery and and 21 twenty one pilot performances. Once that was over though, things got serious.

We spoke with entrepreneurs about the Smart Columbus program while Equitas Health opened new offices in the King-Lincoln District. We took a look at what Generation Z has in store to follow up the Millennials and a local writer informed readers about the wage gap in Columbus. An interesting “local” farm producer opened shop in Ohio, and a Short North church began transforming into architectural offices. Local activists spoke out against police brutality, and we interviewed thought leader Richard Florida about the New Urban Crisis. Scientists marched on the Statehouse lawn in support of science and we sadly learned about the closure of Robert Mason.

Last but not least, Columbus Underground hosted its second annual Best Bites: Brunch Festival on April 20, and attendees crowned Taste of Belgium as the number one brunch in Columbus!

May: The Big Table and Big Issues

Columbus Underground participated in The Big Table in May, spearheaded city-wide by The Columbus Foundation. On that day, community leaders and thought leaders gathered in our offices for discussions about gentrification, police brutality and food insecurity.

The Confluence Cast also took a deep dive into the major bus route redesign at COTA. Columbus held its primary election on May 2 for some important city council races. The most endangered buildings list was released this month, as well as details on a plan to renovate the endangered Bellows School in Franklinton.

The City of Grandview Heights opened its new pool to much fanfare. A social justice park was announced for the Discovery District. A major construction project got into full swing on High Street on the south end of the Short North. And we took a look into the crystal ball to determine what the future of Franklinton and the Scioto Peninsula might look like a few years down the road.

June: New Park, IKEA, Arrests at PRIDE

In June, Columbus finally gained its long-awaited IKEA store to much fanfare (and not as crazy of day-one traffic as we thought), while on the other end of the retail spectrum, the Downtown Zettler Hardware began auctioning away its inventory. Our friends at Dine Originals dropped some knowledge about little-known local restaurant facts and local breweries released their summer lineups.

Some of the biggest news of the year arrived in June, when the 20th Metro Park was announced, which will turn an old quarry site into an active new public space. Two popular destinations in Italian Village opened up new patios and we looked at even more rooftop patios that are coming soon.

The Confluence Cast went entrepreneurial and explored the local realm of venture capital. The new Northside Library re-opened with a newly rebuilt space. And a twenty-year-old nonprofit to help Muslim civil rights gained an important new role in 2017.

There were a lot of big events in June as well, including Comfest, multiple twenty one pilots concerts, and the PRIDE Parade (and the ensuing arrests during the latter).

July: Hard Hats, Awards and Healthy Foods

Construction was in full swing in July and CU Writer Brent Warren got up close and personal with some hard hat tours of the National Veterans Memorial & Museum and the Municipal Light Plant. Columbus Underground celebrated all things healthy with the second annual Healthy Bites Festival. CU was also celebrated in July for its contributions to independent journalism by the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists.

A cool new concept was announced with the Short North Food Hall, while the original Max & Erma’s location in German Village announced it would be closing after a 45 year run. CU Writer Miriam Bowers Abbott went hardcore to train like a Ninja Warrior. The Columbus Foundation officially launched its Giving Store platform. And the local organizers known as the BlackPride4 had an eventful month with a meeting disruption at Stonewall, followed by their own community conversation.

August: Fires, Retires, Tacos and Road Trips

As the summer of 2017 came to a close, Columbus continued to stay busy with new announcements and updates. New food delivery concept ClusterTruck officially launched Downtown and coffee roaster Stauf’s opened a new shop inside the Idea Foundry. The epically proportioned (and named) “Grand Central” development was formally announced Downtown (and later cancelled). The superintendent of Columbus City Schools announced retirement plans, and the St. James Tavern suffered a short closure due to a fire.

Columbus Underground hosted its third annual Best Bites: Taco Festival, where Condado was crowned as the crowd favorite. The space formerly known as The Commissary was reborn as the 1400 Food Lab. CU took a trip to Annapolis to explore a vacation getaway. Local Argentinian food truck Barroluco was named the Best of 2017. And last but not least, we got a little sneak peek at what a driverless shuttle bus system could look like at OSU.

September: New Openings and Futuristic Transit

In September, local retailer/art gallery Rivet announced that it would be exiting the brick-and-mortar scene, OTE restaurant Black Creek Bistro also called it quits, and Zauber Brewing was relaunched as Endeavor Brewing. We celebrated (sadly) the tenth and final Independents’ Day Festival.

Lots of new businesses got up and running at Bridge Park in Dublin, including the new AC Marriott Hotel. CU Writer Susan Post took a road trip to the Maker’s Mark Distillery. A new shipping container project was announced on the city’s South Side. And local activists took their message to City Hall to protest police brutality.

Last but certainly not least — Columbus was named a finalist in the Hyperloop proposal challenge, while plans continued to progress for the high-speed rail connector between Chicago and Columbus.

October: Big Give, Big Events and The Crew

The Columbus Foundation’s biennial philanthropic event The Big Give set a new community giving record with just over $18 million in funds raised in just 26 hours.

Columbus Underground hosted not one, not two, but three big events in October. The second-annual Columbus Coffee Festival drew over 2,000 people to sample roasts from all over Ohio. A special installment of the Urban Living Tour series showcased the new residences at Bridge Park in Dublin to nearly 500 attendees. And nearly 300 beer aficionados gathered for our first-ever Beer+Donut Brunch party at Combustion Brewery & Taproom.

CU Writer Brent Warren exit-interviewed COTA CEO Curtis Stitt on the state of public transportation. We took a look back at Ameriflora ’92 on the eve of its 25th anniversary. Our coverage continued on the important topic of infant mortality rates in Columbus. A new plan was unveiled for the redevelopment of the Franklin Park Trolley Barn while news also broke about Central Ohio gaining another microdistillery.

One of the biggest news stories of the year also began to develop in October, when news broke that Columbus Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt was planning to relocate the team to Austin.

November: CCAD, Elections and Dinosaurs

The future of the Columbus Crew SC continued to be a hot news topic throughout November. Fans rallied to save the team while local leaders shared disappointment at nonstarter negotiation but still attempted to reach a compromise. In the realm of big announcements, OSU made it known that their massive medical center would continue to get much bigger in the future. The Columbus Children’s Theatre announced plans that they’re searching for a new home. And Woodland’s Backyard unveiled a volleyball dome planned for 2018.

The new Dublin branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library was announced as the best in local architectural design by readers of CU. CU Writer Brent Warren sat down for an in-depth talk with CCAD President Melanie Corn, and a few days later the school announced a new animation center.

Columbus Underground hosted its first ever Best Bites: Comfort Food Festival. Local voters renewed Columbus City Council seats. Dinosaurs arrived on the inside of COSI while a new park and underground parking garage arrived on the outside.

Last but not least, three bars on Park Street said farewell, as well as one local music bar in the Brewery District.

December: Marijuana, Renovations and The Peninsula

The end of the year might seem like one endless stream of “Best of” lists, holiday shopping guides, and year-end recaps (like the one you’re finishing right now), but there’s always quite a bit of interesting news to digest if you don’t let it slip through the cracks.

A developer was officially chosen for the massive Scioto Peninsula development, where over 2,500 people will live once fully built out. A popular Northeast Ohio burger joint announced plans to expand to Columbus and Cincinnati-based Jeff Ruby grew his Steakhouse empire to Columbus as well. A large-scale development project officially broke ground in Whitehall and Mount Carmel hospital announced plans to redevelop their Franklinton site.

December was a great month for historic preservationist enthusiasts. The old Zettler Hardware saw the start of a new office/retail repurposing. An office/retail renovation was announced for the Edna Building on the Near East Side. And CU Co-Founder Anne Evans profiled an amazing historic renovation of the Gunning House.

Construction officially broke ground on Ohio’s first legal marijuana greenhouse (the first of 12 planned in the state). And CU Writer Lauren Sega took a closer look at the work being done on a local level to fight HIV.

A big thank you goes out to all of our readers, followers, advertisers, sponsors and friends that supported CU throughout all of 2017. Happy New Year and we can’t wait to unveil was 2018 has in store!

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The Urban Living Tour returns (with strict safety guidelines) on Aug 30!