Reynoldsburg Planning for Wave of New Development
Reynoldsburg officials are touting a handful of recently-completed projects and several more in the planning stages as evidence that change is coming to the suburb on the far east side of Columbus. It’s what could come next, though, that will really get people’s attention.
A mixed-use development featuring buildings as tall as seven stories is being pitched for the former Kmart site at the southeast corner of Brice Road and East Main Street, and a new zoning code could make it much easier to build similar projects elsewhere in the city.
Columbus Underground, with the support of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), has produced a series of podcasts and articles examining some of the issues associated with growth and development in Central Ohio.
As part of that coverage, we spoke to Whitehall officials last spring about how that suburb is planning for denser, more walkable development along the Main Street corridor.
Andrew Bowsher, Development Director for the City of Reynoldsburg, recently sat down with Columbus Underground to talk about his city’s approach to planning and development, which in many ways mirrors what its next-door neighbor Whitehall is doing.
A new comprehensive plan (released in 2018) and the redesigned zoning code have served to raise Reynoldsburg’s profile, according to Bowsher, who said that three different developers have expressed interest in the Kmart site.
“We’re definitely turning heads, and I think that’s the goal,” he added. “Reynoldsburg, for a long time, has been the sleepy big brother out east, but we’re 40,000 strong and growing, and we have the hottest real estate market in the state of Ohio.”
The Corridor Concepts report that was released last spring lays out the case for improved transit and denser development along five corridors in the region. Reynoldsburg is located at the terminus of the Main Street corridor, and hopes to benefit from a faster and more frequent transit connection to Downtown.
Aaron Domini, a Principal at OHM Advisors, also took part in the conversation. OHM is a planning, architecture and engineering firm that has worked with Reynoldsburg on several initiatives and was part of the consultant team that developed the Corridor Concepts plan.
Domini said he is hopeful that the recent spate of planning activity will yield real-world results, unlike many of the plans for bigger and better transit that Columbus has seen in the past.
“There’s really a coming-together from the development community as well as the public sector to start to solve these problems, and I haven’t seen that historicaly to the degree that I’m seeing it today,” he said. “The other [positive sign] is, we haven’t seen growth like this…so I think the political will is even higher, because we know that doing nothing has some serious consequences.”
Domini said he sees potential in the Main Street corridor, particularly in places like Whitehall and Reynoldsburg, where aging strip malls and big box stores are now being seen with new eyes – as places where denser housing and commercial development can be built without adversely affecting the existing (and relatively affordable) single family housing that the communities are known for.
Other topics covered in the conversation include Bus Rapid Transit, the rebirth of Olde Reynoldsburg, and the challenge of bringing a new type of development to a place where people value their spacious yards and quiet suburban streets.
Listen to the whole conversation here.
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.