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Interview: Keith Myers on OSU’s Growth, the Arena District’s Origin Story, and More

Brent Warren Brent Warren Interview: Keith Myers on OSU’s Growth, the Arena District’s Origin Story, and MoreHayes Hall on the Ohio State University campus. Photo by Brent Warren.
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A look at the original master plan for the Arena District reveals a template for urban development that has since become very familiar –a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use development featuring restaurants, offices and apartments. When the project was first proposed, though, that was a new idea for Columbus, and not everyone was convinced it would work.

The driving force behind that idea was Keith Myers, who founded the planning and landscape architecture firm MKSK and now works as Ohio State’s Vice President of Planning, Architecture and Real Estate.

In a recent interview with Columbus Underground, Myers credited the leadership at Nationwide Realty Investors for embracing an urban vision for the new hockey arena and the land around it, something which he said was viewed at the time as a “pretty radical” idea.

Just over twenty years later, the neighborhood is nearly built-out and the competing plan, which Myers said called for “an arena in a sea of asphalt parking,” has been largely forgotten.

Although Myers is no longer directly involved in private-sector development, the scale of his work has not diminished. His office at Ohio State is currently guiding projects like 15th and High and the university’s new, $160 million Arts District.

Also in that portfolio is OSU’s west campus, which Myers describes as the “junk drawer of the university;” a place where, “over the decades, people will get an idea and they don’t know where to put it…as a result, it became a repository of all kinds of things.”

Turning those 270 acres (50 of which are currently surface parking lots) into a mix of new research facilities, office space and apartments is the next big project on Myers’ to-do list.

How exactly it will come together and what it will look like are still being determined, but tune into the entire Confluence Cast conversation to get an idea of where the project is headed next.

Also covered in the podcast is the Rapid Five initiative, a look back at other major projects like the Scioto Mile, as well as much more on the Arena District, 15th and High, and Myers’ thoughts on Columbus as “a place where ideas can live.”

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Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission

The Confluence Cast 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, visit morpc.org.

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