Decade in Development: Arena District Moves Toward Completion

Walker Evans Walker Evans Decade in Development: Arena District Moves Toward CompletionThe Arena District in 2015 — Photo via NRI.
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A lot has changed in Columbus between 2010 and 2020. In this series we take a look at large-scale development projects and trends that shape where we live, work and play.

While the Arena District was already in full swing in 2010, developer Nationwide Realty Investors (NRI) was nowhere near finished with the original vision outlined in its master plan. Nationwide Arena opened its doors for hockey in the year 2000 and subsequent office and apartment buildings went up quickly in the decade that followed, but the district was still flanked with gravel parking lots that wouldn’t be filled in with new development until the 2010-2020 timespan.

The Flats on Vine apartments were completed in 2011, bringing over 200 new apartment units to the district, only to be followed up with another 120 units at Flats II in 2013.

The Flats II apartment building under construction in 2013 — Photo by Walker Evans.
New offices under construction in 2012 at Front Street and Nationwide Boulevard — Photo by Walker Evans.

Construction was underway in 2012 on another office building at Front Street and Nationwide Boulevard, as well as the McConnell parking garage, adjacent to Nationwide Arena.

A new headquarters for Columbia Gas was announced in 2011 and completed in 2014 at the northeast intersection of Nationwide Boulevard and Neil Avenue.

In 2016, NRI announced the redevelopment of a portion of the Buggworks Building next to Huntington Park — converting the empty warehouse into office space anchored by a new headquarters for Cameron Mitchell Restaurants.

The Buggyworks office renovation in 2016 — Photo by Walker Evans.

Additionally, three new residential towers known as Parks Edge were announced as anchors for the south end of the Arena District, complementing the 20-story North Bank condo building completed in 2007.

The first two buildings topped out at 12 stories and were completed in 2017 and 2018, while the third will rise to 10 stories and is slated to open sometime in 2021.

The first of three Parks Edge condo buildings, under construction in 2016 — Photo by Walker Evans.

While the three Parks Edge buildings were initially touted as the “completion” of the Arena District plan, the footprint has grown and evolved since its original conception in the 90s, and as recently as November 2019, additional development has been announced by NRI, which includes offices, apartments and another parking garage.

And to the west of the Arena District, an area informally known as “Pen West” was originally slated for future housing development as an extension of the Arena District, but will instead become home to “Confluence Park” — a new, mixed-use neighborhood that will be anchored by a new stadium for the Columbus Crew SC. Ground officially broke on the site in 2019 and will take shape over the course of the next decade.

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The Arena District in 2019 — Photo via
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