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CU Live: The State of Downtown Columbus

Walker Evans Walker Evans CU Live: The State of Downtown Columbus
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In February, the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District unveiled its annual report, detailing the development and progress of Downtown Columbus. We spoke with Marc Conte, Deputy Director of Research, Planning & Facilities to learn more about what the report indicates for the future of the city.

Collectively, the report outlines that over $1.7 billion in development has been proposed for construction Downtown, with another $1 billion currently under construction, and $193 million in construction that was completed in 2019.

“Since the great recession, every year we’ve seen more and more activity,” stated Conte. “Part of what else you see in these numbers are reinvestments in buildings, so a lot of the office buildings around Capital Square just in the last two years did major reinvestments into their buildings in an attempt to stay competitive and attract new tenants.

The report also outlines a major milestone for 2020 as the residential population is expected to surpass 10,000 as new apartment buildings complete construction and open for move-ins. Conte stated that they’ve continued to see an influx of the same types of residents into the urban center of the city.

“Ever since the Downtown housing boom started in the early 2000s, it’s really been two groups — empty nesters and young professionals usually without kids,” he explained. “We see very few three or more bedroom units get built. That more than anything causes families to leave Downtown.”

While the residential population Downtown has continued to climb over the past 20 years, new retail businesses in the are have mostly been limited to restaurants, bars and coffee shops.

“I think we’re going to need 15 to 20 thousand people to really see a lot more retail happen,” stated Conte. “And part of the problem is that our Downtown is so large, that these 10,000 people that we expect this year, they’re really spread out.”

One sub-neighborhood that is seeing explosive growth is The Discovery District, which occupies the eastern side of Downtown Columbus where multiple colleges and institutions can be found. Multiple new apartment buildings are wrapping up construction there in 2020, adding nearly 2,000 new residents within the neighborhood.

“Within a year we should see a lot more activity, a lot more people out in the street,” said Conte.

All videos were recorded on February 28, 2020.

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For more information on Capital Crossroads SID, visit www.downtownservices.org.

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