Residential Population Continues to Climb in Downtown Columbus
Approximately 7,080 people call Downtown Columbus home. While that number is still much lower than the all-time high of 30,000 residents in the 1950s, it’s still a significant improvement over the all-time low of 3,488 that was recorded just 15 years ago.
The Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District released their quarterly Downtown Economic Development Update report this week, which provides a snapshot of the residential, commercial and public improvements made to the core of the city. The report indicates that a continued population growth is expected for Downtown, where 785 additional housing units are currently in the construction pipeline, with the capacity to add over 1,000 more residents within the next twelve to eighteen months.
The vast majority of that growth continues to be dominated by the for-rent apartment market with the for-sale condo market only more recently making a post-recession rebound. The SID reports that 125 new apartment units were completed Downtown in 2014 with no new condo units completed. Of the available condo inventory, only 29 units sold last year (eight new units and 29 units resold), but the asking price remains high with the average selling price totaling over $345,000.
Marc Conte, Deputy Director of Research, Planning & Facilities at Capital Crossroads says that the rental trend will likely continue in the near future, and that reports from property managers and apartment developers say that new units continue to lease quickly.
“For what we know that’s been announced, Bishop’s Walk on Gay Street is the only for-sale condo project under construction right now,” he explained. “Nationwide has also announced their final phase of original Arena District area, which will be for-sale housing, but they’ve presented no timeline on that yet.”
New census data in the report provides an interesting look at the demographic makeup of Downtown residents, which aligns almost identically with the makeup of the City of Columbus as a whole with regards to age, race and employment levels. There is one large deviation though, related to work commute statistics: while only 2% of the entire population of Columbus walks to work, a reported 28% of Downtown residents walk to work. The reported travel time to work (regardless of mode) is 15 to 17 minutes, which is less than the city-wide average of 21.5 minutes.
“This shows that it’s all about the walkability of neighborhoods,” said Conte. “Just because a neighborhood has sidewalks or bike paths, doesn’t mean it’s walkable. A cul-de-sac in the suburbs might have sidewalks, but you might have to walk one or two miles to actually get to something.”
Conte adds that future Downtown development is likely to take the form of new buildings on existing surface parking lots as there are few options for building rehab projects remaining.
“Parking demand is growing because we have more interest in Downtown,” he said. “That will drive up the cost of the parking lots too, so that could prevent them from being sold to developers. Moving forward we need to figure out how to move people in and around Downtown without single-occupant autos.”
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