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Convention Center to Expand, But Abandons Mixed-Use Concepts

Brent Warren Brent Warren Convention Center to Expand, But Abandons Mixed-Use ConceptsRenderings by NBBJ.
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The convention center will be getting a $125-million makeover, but that money will mostly be spent on improvements to the interior of the building. Plans for a large mixed-use development at the corner of Goodale and High Street have been abandoned.

The Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, which earlier this year considered a number of large-scale proposals to add office, retail and hotel rooms to the northern end of the convention center site, has decided instead to completely renovate the inside of the building while adding a two-story, 36,000 square-foot addition to the center’s north side.

The authority’s Executive Director, Bill Jennison, said that at the end of the day, they needed to focus on their core mission:

“We looked at those other options, and some of them actually had a profound impact on the convention space – one of them would have used up to 70,000 square feet of space.  The board came to the conclusion that the site is only so big, and we will only have so many opportunities to do projects to enhance the center itself, which is the really driver that brings in conventions.”

Jennison added that residential and office uses can go anywhere – as evidenced by the many new projects in the Short North and Downtown – and that those uses are not the best choices for the convention center site.

The hotel piece does have some appeal to the Authority, but Jennison thinks it’s way too early to move on the idea.

Renderings of two of the four private development projects previously considered.

Renderings of two of the four private development projects previously considered.

“We want to give the Downtown hotel market some time to catch its breath,” he said, noting that the Hilton opened less than two years ago, and the new Le Meridian hotel at the Joseph building in the Short North has yet to open its doors.

A space is actually being reserved for a potential hotel – west of the convention center’s proposed 800-car parking garage on the north side of Goodale Street – which will either be kept as a parking lot or be developed as green space. Jennnison suggested that in two years, they could perform a hotel market study and determine if the demand is there for a hotel on that site.

Representatives from Wagenbrenner Development — one of several developers that submitted large-scale proposals for the redevelopment of the site — declined to comment on the Convention Authority’s abandonment of the project.

As for the addition, it will fill in what is currently empty space along Goodale Street – adding a more pedestrian-friendly facade and a much more prominent entrance at the corner of Goodale and High. 

For more info and discussion on this development, CLICK HERE to visit our Messageboard.

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