Downtown Leaders See Opportunity in Southeast Gateway
Big changes are coming soon to the southeast quadrant of Downtown – work is happening now on the Mound Street Connector project, and 2014 will see the start of the next phase of the massive 70/71 split project. When it’s all said and done, Fulton Avenue could see an additional 10,000 cars daily as it is transformed into the primary east-bound collector road for traffic coming into Downtown, while Mound could see an even greater increase as it collects the west-bound traffic.
It’s this potential transformation that has inspired city and Downtown leaders to put together a plan for the sometimes-forgotten corner of Downtown east of 5th Street and south of Walnut Street. The Discovery District Special Improvement District commissioned the report – called the Southeast Gateway Framework Plan and produced by local firm MKSK – to help draw attention to the area and present a vision for its future.
Marc Conte, the SID’s Deputy Director of Research, expects the transportation upgrades and added traffic to spur new development in a portion of Downtown that is ripe for it – currently 41% of the area is made up of surface parking lots.
“We asked property owners if they wanted to see the new Mound Street lined with stand-alone fast-food restaurants or those same restaurants on the ground floor of five-story residential or office buildings,” says Conte. “The owners in the area would prefer the latter and want to make sure new development can help create a more urban, walkable and vibrant neighborhood while still maintaining access for those coming by car. With this document, the neighborhood is also setting out their development expectations for this gateway into Downtown.”
He added that the plan is meant to complement, and help people visualize, the changes to the Downtown zoning code that were recently approved by City Council. An urban form map shows a mix of mid-rise, low-rise and neighborhood-residential development that would vary from two to eight stories. Other sections present key opportunity areas and ideas for improved streetscapes and pedestrian connections.
“I would expect most new development in this area to be residential,” said Conte. “Ground floor commercial space will likely get used as office space initially with conversion to retail or restaurants as the area develops more densely. It may seem counterintuitive to construct new retail-ready space given the lack of retail in the area but we have to build for the Downtown we want 10 and 20 years from now, not merely respond to demand for real estate as it exists in 2013.”
City of Columbus Planning Administrator Vince Papsidero called the plan, which the SID expects to present to the Downtown Commission next month, “very effective at illustrating the development concept supported by the community,” adding that, “this portion of Downtown is situated to take advantage of improved access to I-70/71 and should evolve into a vibrant mixed use and walkable neighborhood.”
For ongoing updates and discussion on the Southeast Gateway Plan, CLICK HERE to visit our messageboard.
To view the full Southeast Gateway Plan, CLICK HERE (8.5MB PDF)
Renderings via MKSK from the Southeast Gateway Framework Plan.
Photo by Walker Evans.