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Decade in Development: Franklinton Uprising

Walker Evans Walker Evans Decade in Development: Franklinton UprisingConstruction in Franklinton in September 2017 — Photo by Walker Evans.
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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.

Franklinton was the original settlement in Central Ohio with some of the longest and richest history in the region. But after multiple devastating floods in the 20th century, the neighborhood was federally designated as a floodplain in 1983. That meant that strict development restrictions on the area would leave it practically untouchable for building maintenance, renovation or construction until the completion of a new floodwall in 2004.

Between 2004 and 2010, plenty of land was speculatively purchased in Franklinton, particularly on the eastern edge of the neighborhood closest to Downtown Columbus. But outside of land consolidation, little movement was made toward construction. The neighborhood was one of the most impoverished in the city, and there was still plenty of skepticism about investing in the area.

To get ahead of the developers and provide some neighborhood-centric guidance, civic leaders put together a community redevelopment plan with public input sessions in 2011 and an unveiling in 2012. In 2011, new artist enclaves like 400 West Rich Street helped to emphasize creatives as playing a lead role in the future of the area.

A visual of what the future of East Franklinton could look like — from the 2012 East Franklinton Plan.

Since 2012, the redevelopment of Franklinton has occurred at a nearly breakneck pace. This area was once deemed an incredibly unsafe place by many who refused to step foot in Franklinton just 10 years ago, but is now home to some of the hottest new bars and restaurants, while hundreds of new apartment units house some of the hippest spots for young professionals to live.

The Columbus Idea Foundry broke ground on their new home in 2014, bringing 60,000 square feet of maker space to the neighborhood, while Chromedge followed suit with an announcement in 2015. Land Grant Brewing opened their doors in Franklinton in 2014, Brewdog launched across the street in 2018, while Taft’s followed close behind in 2019.

Gravity development under construction in July 2017 — Photo by Walker Evans.

Nationwide Realty Investors announced intentions to build a new mixed-use project on West Broad Street in 2014, but has yet to unveil official plans. In 2015, Casto unveiled their River & Rich project, which was formally completed in 2019. Kaufman Development unveiled a five-story mixed-use development on Broad Street in 2016, which became known as Gravity and was also completed in 2019. The smaller-scale Out of Town apartments were also announced in 2016, and completed in 2018.

Out of Town in March 2019 — Photo by Walker Evans.

While East Franklinton’s ascension has gone from zero to 60 in less than a decade, the 2020s are poised to see it going from 60 to 600 even faster.

Kaufman’s five-acre multi-building Gravity 2.0 project was announced in 2018, which includes a 12-story, mixed-use tower, while the next phase of River & Rich also includes a 12-story, mixed-use building — and both could see ground break as soon as 2020.

A view of the proposed 12-story building on West Broad Street. Renderings by NBBJ.
The second phase of River & Rich would include a 12-story tower. Renderings by Dimit Architects.

As the momentum continues for East Franklinton, the 2020s will likely see real changes begin in West Franklinton as well. That neighborhood plan was unveiled in 2014 with more of a residential and mid-density focus, but little new construction has occurred since then. At least two larger-scale projects will serve as West Franklinton anchors — the Thrive Companies-led redevelopment of the Mount Carmel hospital site and Pizzuti’s redevelopment of the former Graham Ford automobile dealership site.

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