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Elevated Park Concept Proposed for Downtown

Brent Warren Brent Warren Elevated Park Concept Proposed for DowntownA view of the concept looking west toward the Statehouse. Renderings by MKSK.
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The Edwards Companies is considering transforming a decades-old elevated walkway Downtown into an open air park inspired by New York’s High Line. The roof and glass walls of the existing skybridge would be removed and landscaping added to create a public walkway above East Capital Street.

The walkway would also serve to connect two Edwards Companies projects – the PNC Building, which the company bought in 2016 and plans to renovate, and a newly-proposed 13-story building at the corner of Broad and Young streets, about a block-and-a-half away.

The idea was introduced during the December 16 meeting of the Downtown Commission, and renderings submitted to the city of Columbus in advance of that meeting provide more details about how the project might look.

Bryce Hall, an architect from the Denver-based firm Kephart, told commissioners that the altered skybridge – referred to in the renderings as “ParkWalk” – would allow future residents of the PNC Building to access the parking and amenities that are being planned for the new project at 199-209 E. Broad St.

The proposed new building would have 133 residential units and a parking garage with space for 235 cars.

Hall explained that the relationship between the two projects would be similar to what the developer has established at the corner of Gay and High, where residents of the renovated Citizens Building can access the parking and other amenities of The Nicholas via an underground walkway that connects the two buildings.

Jeff Edwards, President and CEO of The Edwards Companies, told the commission that the two projects will need to share parking because his company does not own the parking garage that the skybridge currently connects to (a 12-story structure at 50 S. Young St. that was built in 1974).

“They were originally built as one [the PNC Building, the walkway and the garage]…we own the walkway and tower, but not the garage,” he said, adding that he reached out to the ownership group connected to the garage and to a plan to redevelop three acres of adjacent land about potentially sharing parking, but they were “unsure of what their development was going to look like, and more so now with COVID.”

Because of that uncertainty, Edwards decided to build more parking in the new 13-story Broad Street building, and to upgrade the elevated walkway into what he called “publicly-available park space…a Columbus version of the High Line in New York.”

The plans for the new walkway were initially submitted to the city as part of the packet for the proposed Broad Street building, but were later removed and were not formally reviewed by the commission in December.

The submitted visuals show the existing walkway being extended to South Third Street, where a stairway and elevator would provide access from sidewalk.

A representative of Edwards Companies declined to comment further on the proposal.

No action was taken on the proposed 13-story building, as it was presented for conceptual review only. Expect that project, along with the ParkWalk concept if it is pursued, to be brought back to a future commission meeting for further discussion and an eventual vote on the design.

An overview of the proposed conversion of an existing elevated walkway into a open air park.
The South Third Street entrance to the walkway.
The walkway would run above Capital Street, from South Third Street to just past South Young Street.
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