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New Crew Soccer Stadium and Development Gets First Approval

Brent Warren Brent Warren New Crew Soccer Stadium and Development Gets First ApprovalThe stadium site and proposed development. Shown on the south side of Nationwide Boulevard is the Municipal Light Building. Visual by HNTB, MKSK and EMH&T.
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The team behind a proposal to build a soccer stadium and mixed-use development at the western end of Nationwide Boulevard is now free to move ahead with the first step in that process.

The Downtown Commission gave its approval this morning to tear down several city-owned buildings that have stood at 560 W. Nationwide Blvd for decades.

Representatives of the Crew SC ownership group – which is made up of the Haslam family, who also own the Cleveland Browns, and the locally-based Edwards family – told the commissioners that those demolitions are necessary to begin the infrastructure work for the entire site.

“We’re looking to start moving dirt on the site in September,” said Phil Dangerfield, Vice President of Operations for the Cleveland Browns, who also laid out a timeline for the site’s development that calls for a stadium ground breaking ceremony in October, and for the first Major League Soccer game to be held there in July of 2021.

A timeline for the build-out of the mixed-use development that will occupy the western portion of the site is still up in the air, according to Dangerfield.

The City of Columbus still owns that parcel, and Nationwide Realty Investors still owns the future stadium site, but Dangerfield insisted that a deal would be finalized soon, and that the different entities are all “working closely” on the project together.

The plan is to return to the commission next month for an initial design review of the stadium. This morning’s presentation was focused more on the overall layout of the site, which will include three new public streets, park space along the Olentangy River, and a new pedestrian and bike bridge providing a direct connection to the Olentangy Trail.

Jeffrey Pongonis, Principal at MKSK, explained to the commission that the new streets will be tree-lined and will feature the Arena District’s signature brick sidewalks.

Pongonis said that initial plans for the development call for about 120,000 square feet of office space and 440 residential units. A parking garage would be built to support those uses, and could also provide 100 to 200 spaces of “premium parking” for the stadium on game days.

“There will be very little soccer stadium parking on this site,” he said. “We’re going to rely on the 15-to-20,000 spaces to the east of this…and we are working with the city to improve connections from Nationwide to Spring and Long Streets (via Hanover and Hocking Streets).”

Also in the works is a mobility study that will examine the state of transportation in the Arena District as a whole, including cars, buses, ride share and bikes.

Although they expressed some concern about access to the stadium and traffic management, the commissioners were generally pleased with the plan that was presented.

“I think it’s great…this is an easy one, I like the configuration,” said commission chair Stephen Wittmann.

Also heard by the commission was an update on future plans for the Washington Gladden Social Justice Park on East Broad Street, and a first review of a seven-story apartment building on East Mound Street.

Additional Reading: Hard Hat Tour, Municipal Light Plant

A view of the site in context, visual by HNTB, MKSK and EMH&T.
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