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Interview: Brent Crawford and Bob Hoying

Brent Warren Brent Warren Interview: Brent Crawford and Bob Hoying
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The Insight 2050 initiative from the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) has drawn a lot of attention to predicted population and job growth in the region and the need to plan for it.

City planners, elected officials, and developers all tend to agree on one basic takeaway of the study – that future development will need to be more dense in order to sustainably meet the demands of the market and to prevent the region from sprawling out into the surrounding farm land even more than it already has.

When an actual project is proposed, though, that theoretical consensus meets reality; angry neighbors and skeptical review boards or planning commissions often object to even moderately dense developments. The result is that it’s still much easier to build a low-density, single-family housing development on the edge of the metro area than it is to develop a project that adds density to an existing neighborhood.

Local developer Crawford Hoying has some experience with this phenomenon. The company has built or is in the process of building apartments and mixed-use developments in Upper Arlington, Worthington, the Short North, and in both downtown Columbus and downtown Dayton.

And, on what used to be a retail strip center and a driving range, the company is well on its way to building the City of Dublin the dense urban core that it never had.

Principals Brent Crawford and Bob Hoying recently sat down with Columbus Underground to talk about these projects and how they’ve been able to get them built.

The conversation was recorded and is now available for download as a Confluence Cast episode.

Speaking almost exactly three years after our last in-depth conversation about the project, Crawford said that their Bridge Park development in Dublin has turned out “better than we…could’ve dreamed.” Office space has been leased, condos have been sold, and business at the AC Hotel and the many restaurants that have set up shop in the development has exceeded expectations.

“People will come up to us – other real estate developers, people in the business, lenders – and say, ‘we thought you guys were insane…we said this’ll never work…it’s way too big of a gamble,'” said Crawford, who added that one of the critiques they heard at the time was that they were building too much at once.

“Dublin had not allowed any new apartments in over 20 years,” he said, so they knew the demand would be there. They also knew that if they had started with just one or two buildings (instead of a nearly a dozen), they wouldn’t have been able to create the level of activity and vibrancy that people expect from an urban environment.

“We tell people all the time; this thing, it’s not changing any time soon…people going back to the cores, whether that’s the core of Dublin, the core of Columbus, or Clintonville, it’s happening,” said Hoying. “And so from that perspective I think we feel very lucky that we’ve done these types of developments (and) that this is kind of what we’ve gotten good at.”

Other topics covered include the importance of affordable housing and transportation options (and how the lack of both at Bridge Park is an issue for the businesses trying to hire employees to work there), the success of their project in downtown Dayton, and their strategy for winning over a hostile crowd of neighbors at a meeting about a proposed development.

Listen to the whole conversation here.

Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission

The article is sponsored by The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) featuring stories about local and regional partners that envision and embrace innovative directions in economic prosperity, transportation, sustainability and an inclusive Central Ohio. MORPC’s transformative programming, innovative services and public policy initiatives are designed to promote and support the vitality and growth in the region. For more information, please visit www.morpc.org.

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