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Plans for New Convention Center Garage Moving Forward

Brent Warren Brent Warren Plans for New Convention Center Garage Moving ForwardPhoto by Brent Warren
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Plans for a new parking garage behind the Greater Columbus Convention Center are moving forward. The Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority (FCCFA) has issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for the design of the garage, and will soon issue a second RFQ for firms interested in managing its construction.

The FCCFA board authorized those steps at its last meeting, and also gave the go ahead to issue revenue bonds to finance the garage – the same funding method used to build the recent Goodale Street garage and an earlier expansion of the Vine Street garage.

“We will be selling the bonds next fall, once the design is far enough along that we have a firm estimate of cost…assuming market conditions are good,” said FCCFA’s Executive Director Don Brown, adding that the rough timeline calls for designing the garage in 2018 and building it in 2019, with a target opening date in early 2020.

The preliminary cost estimate is $18 million, for an eight-story garage that would fit about 650 cars.

It would be located north of the Drury Inn, directly adjacent to the loading area for what is now referred to as the convention center’s South Building (built in 1980, it was formerly known as the Ohio Center). Most cars would access the garage from North Third Street, although it would also connect to Nationwide Boulevard. A walkway would take pedestrians from the garage directly into the convention center.

“That’s why the location works so well for us,” said Brown, “it makes use of the existing ramp system, and it means we can provide direct pedestrian access…the connection will come in right near Battelle Hall, off of the central atrium in the convention center.”

There has been some confusion about the new garage’s location, with some assuming it would go into the large surface parking lot nestled between Third and Fourth streets, on the north side of Nationwide Boulevard.

Brown explained that that lot, which holds 900 cars, would continue to be used for parking and as a staging area for large trade shows.

“It’s land that we’ll develop at some point,” he added, “for some future opportunity that has yet to be determined.”

Another piece of land that could be developed in the future is the smaller lot in between the Goodale Street garage and southern end of the the I-670 Cap, which holds the Black Point restaurant.

“That could be a hotel or commercial development,” said Brown, “something related to all of the dining and entertainment that is right there on High Street.. but there no concrete plans.”

Last spring Experience Columbus presented the results of a study of potential hotel sites around the convention center – it included those two lots but in the end recommended adding on to an existing hotel like the Hyatt Regency or the Hilton Downtown Columbus.

Location of the proposed garage, map courtesy of Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority

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