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Fast Forward: Discovery District

Walker Evans Walker Evans Fast Forward: Discovery DistrictRendering provided by Motorists Insurance.
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When most people think of Downtown Columbus, their attention largely turns to the High Street corridor and its immediate surroundings. New development has largely followed that trend with tall new infill projects lining the street in a north to south configuration with a few exceptions sprinkled in other areas.

That trend will continue to change rapidly over the next several years in the Discovery District, an area that comprises mostly the eastern half of Downtown. Known largely for its higher education institutions (Columbus State, CCAD, Franklin University, Capital Law School) and its cultural institutions (Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus Performing Arts Center), the area will soon see a new influx of residents, retail businesses and other new uses.

Approximately 1,800 New Residents

Within a few years, nearly 2,000 new residents will call the Discovery District home. One of the largest new developments comes from Motorists Insurance, which has plans to convert their collection of surface parking lots into a new 256-unit residential community adjacent to the Topiary Park.

Four additional nearby developments have also been announced that will have over 100 units per building. A six-story mixed-use development from Borror will add 220 units to State Street. The Grant Oak apartments are planned for demolition and will be replaced with 120 units of housing, with another 100-unit six-story building located next door. On the south end of the neighborhood, an eight-story building is planned on East Main Street with 105 apartments.

New six-story mixed-use development from Borror — rendering via M + A Architects.

Currently, there is a nine-story apartment building under construction on Oak Street near Grant Hospital, which will soon add 93 units to the area. Nearby, a five-story 84-unit apartment building was just completed on East Town Street. On the north end of the neighborhood, an older warehouse is being converted into the 80-unit View on Grant building. A demolition-and-replacement plan is under way for a prominent intersection on Broad Street, which is slated to contain approximately 60 apartment units in a six-story building. Three older buildings on Long Street are also undergoing a renovation process to create 30 new residential units in this area.

Also, there’s not been any updates in awhile, but a seven-story building was preliminary unveiled on the south end of the Topiary park, which could add dozens of apartments to that intersection if constructed as planned. And, if the renovations of the upper floors of a pawn shop building on East Main Street move forward, it could add a couple of new apartments there as well.

A nine-story apartment building under construction in the Discovery District — Photo by Walker Evans.

At Least 50,000 Square Feet of New Office and Retail Space

Many of the announced developments include some form of ground floor retail space. The aforementioned Borror State Street project would likely contain the most, with 15,000 square feet of ground floor footage devoted to retail and commercial space. The Motorists project is also slated to include 10,000 square feet of retail, centered around Oak Street and Washington Avenue. The eight-story development on Main Street will add 8,800 square feet of retail frontage, and the recently completed 223 E. Town contains just over 5,000 square feet of retail space, which will be home to The Woodbury restaurant.

A new Home2 Suites extended stay hotel on East Main Street features ground floor retail space that is slated to open soon. The Long Street development mentioned previously will include a gym in its ground floor retail space, while the View on Grant has a coffee shop slated for its bottom floor.

The View on Grant — rendering via Jonathan Barnes Architecture and Design.

Other projects in the area that will include an undetermined amount of ground floor retail space include the replacement of the Grant Oak Apartments, its next door six-story companion building, both facing Oak Street. And at the intersection of Grant an Long, a renovation project has added retail space between CCAD and CSCC that is now available for lease.

More Medical, Parking and Public Spaces Coming Soon

In addition to places to live, work and eat, the Discovery District will continue to see more functions as it grows. Grant Hospital has continued to expand over the years with a new Bone and Joint Clinic and an ongoing third-story addition to its main hospital building. Grant will soon begin work on a new six-story parking garage at Rich and Grant that will provide 1,050 parking spots to hospital employees and visitors.

Speaking of parking, the Motorists Insurance project will offset their loss of surface parking with a few new garages, consolidating 778 spaces into structured parking. The area will also see some new green space as a Social Justice Park is being planned for a small strip of land on East Broad Street.

The Columbus College of Art and Design have announced the expansion of their animation department, which will get a new $1.5 million state of the art center within the design building at Broad and Cleveland. The school also has more plans for the future of the campus, as revealed in a recent interview with CCAD President Dr. Melanie Corn.

Conceptual visual of a new Coumbus State facility from the 2013 Master Plan — Rendering via NBBJ.

Columbus State is also working on some long-term development plans, and the first step includes the construction of a new culinary school, which is slated for the southeast corner of Cleveland and Mt. Vernon Avenue with a 2020 opening timeframe.

The Future and Beyond

With an abundance of surface parking lots still in its midst, the Discovery District has ample room for continued growth in the coming decade. A placemaking plan is underway for the area, to help ensure that with the increased interest in development, the neighborhood remains a place that is walkable and accessible to the workers, students, residents and visitors that already call this place home.

The Fast Forward series is presented by our friends at TRIAD Architecture. CLICK HERE to read previous installments in this ongoing editorial series.

TRIAD is a full-service architecture and design firm where we partner with our clients to deliver quality solutions. Recently, we have expanded our services to apply our expertise and pragmatic approach to development projects and facility solutions.

At TRIAD, its never “just business” – we believe that architecture is stewardship, and that everything we do should benefit our employees, our clients and the communities we serve.

We are also working with our community partners to curate diverse perspectives on architecture’s impact in our communities. Visit www.ArchitectureIsStewardship.com for more information.

To find out more about our work, check out www.triadarchitects.com.

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