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Fast Forward: The University District

Walker Evans Walker Evans Fast Forward: The University DistrictVisuals by Kelley Design Co / Provided by Campus Partners.
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The University District is a Columbus neighborhood that is in a constant stage of change. Some people may believe that the latest transformations currently under way in the area are something out of the ordinary, but all it takes is a quick viewing of the WOSU Neighborhoods documentary that aired in 2011 to learn that “change” and “University District” are nearly synonymous.

If one thing is for certain, it’s that the current crop of transformations can be difficult and/or confusing to keep track of as a collective unit when there’s updated reported on individual projects on a weekly basis. That’s why our “Fast Forward” series was created — to take a broader look at construction sites and proposed development plans in a given area, and provide a glimpse of what the near future holds once those transformations are completed.

Since the University District is such a large neighborhood with several sub-sections of concentrated development, we’ve broken this installment down into three focus areas: North Campus, Central Campus and South Campus, all directly adjacent to The Ohio State University.

North Campus – Lane and High


Of the three main focal points along High Street, the North Campus area is the spot that has already transformed the most, thanks largely to the mostly-completed $370 million “North Residential District” project located on the campus itself. To put it simply, OSU oversaw the demolition of 11 smaller buildings on north campus, and the construction of 11 larger buildings to accomodate 3,200 student beds as well as new academic facilities and student amenities.

There are many additional projects in the works adjacent to the campus as well. The View on Pavey Square has been through multiple iterations, and if approved in its current form, would add a five-story building just a few blocks north of Lane Avenue with new residential and retail. A new five-story building has been approved on the southeast corner of High and Lane, replacing an old gas station with 69 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail space. A new seven-story building was also approved earlier this year at the corner of Tuttle Park and Lane Avenue with 43 more apartments and 6,000 square feet of retail and office space.

Other recently completed projects in the vicinity include The Doric, a four-story 45-unit apartment building on Lane Avenue just east of Neil Avenue, Norwich Flats, a four-story 56-unit apartment building on Norwich Avenue at Tuttle Park, and The View on High, a five-story 62-unit mixed-use apartment building at High and Woodruff.

Central Campus – 15th and High


The blocks surrounding the intersection of 15th and High have only recently begun to change, but represent a very large scale shift that will most likely take shape over the next five to ten years. In June, Campus Partners unveiled a master plan for this district, which will include an untold number of new residences, retailers, businesses, hotel rooms, parking garage spaces and a public square. With little data to go on, and specific details being left up to the private development partners that will actually build out the area, it’s tough to determine exactly what the future will hold outside of the planning graphics released by Campus Partners. We do know that from a density perspective, the area will be most likely home to four-to-eight story buildings, with existing one-to-thee story buildings in the area facing the wrecking ball in the near future.

The one portion of this new development that we do know more about is phase one: The Wellington. Located on the High Street block between 16th and 17th Avenues, this six-story building will contain 170 apartment units, 46,000 square feet of retail (including a 30,000 square foot Target) and a 171-space parking garage. That project will be completed in July 2018. Everything else is still in preliminary phases as of today.

South Campus – Ninth and High


Once the mixed-use redevelopment formerly known as the South Campus Gateway was completed in 2005 and the national recession set in, the southern end of the University District didn’t see too many changes for awhile. That began changing within the past several years as new development plans have emerged for many of the empty or underutilized parcels of land along High Street in this area.

Directly south of the Gateway itself is newly completed residential complex known as One Pearl Place, a 250-unit apartment project from Edwards Community that includes two four-story buildings, two three-story buildings and a four-story parking garage, as well as a separate-but-adjacent 60-unit four-story building that is home to affordable housing. Phase two of that same development is the Highline on Nine, a five-story building with 23,000 square feet of retail, a 133-space parking garage and 140 apartment units.

Across the street from the Highline are two side-by-side projects that are very different. One is a six-story new build that will feature 95 apartment units and a 116-space parking garage above 7,000 square feet of retail space. The other is a smaller historic renovation project that consists of two buildings with 18 apartment units and a 70-car parking structure.

Another block-and-a-half down High Street, a proposed six-story building would take up the full block between Euclid and Seventh if constructed as planned, adding another 154 apartments, a 188-space parking garage and 16,000 square feet of retail. Directly across High Street from that project is the new 25,000 square foot two-story Northside Columbus Metropolitan Library Branch, which is already well under way. Another three story apartment building has also recently been proposed directly behind the South Campus Gateway parking garage, but no word has been released yet on how many apartment units it will contain. And last but not least, construction is nearly complete on 48 new townhome-style apartments on King Avenue, located not far from High.

While each sub-section of the University District individually represents a unique hub of activity, combined they show that this neighborhood as a whole is rapidly transforming, bringing many new residents, businesses and activity to one of the densest and liveliest areas not just in Columbus, but in the entire State of Ohio.

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