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Scioto Peninsula: Buckingham Companies Out, CDDC to be Master Developer

Brent Warren Brent Warren Scioto Peninsula: Buckingham Companies Out, CDDC to be Master DeveloperThe original vision for the Scioto Peninsula — rendering via Robert A.M. Stern Architects / CDDC.
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The Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC) revealed a major change to its plans for the Scioto Peninsula today. Buckingham Companies, the Indianapolis-based developer that was chosen late last year to build out the 21-acre site, is no longer attached to the project.

Instead, the CDDC will assume the role of master developer and will work to line up different developers for each distinct portion of the project.

Guy Worley, President and CEO of the CDDC, explained that the overall timeline will not change under this new arrangement – he still expects a full build out in the next ten years or so – and that the development will still include a mix of residential, retail, office and hotel uses.

However, instead of Buckingham developing an overall plan and building it all themselves, the CDDC will issue a series of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for individual sections, which will be bid on and built by different developers. The process will be similar in practice to the one used to develop downtown’s RiverSouth District, which the CDDC oversaw and dubbed complete last year, after plans for the Millennial Tower were first unveiled.

“Our goal is by the end of year is to have partnered with developers and to start the design phase,” said Worley, “with the  development beginning sometime by the end of 2019.”

One portion of the publicly owned land on the peninsula seems to have jumped to the top of the priority list. Worley said that the first RFP will likely be for the rectangle of land that is formed by Belle Street, State Street, Starling Street and Rush Alley. That parcel sits directly across the street from the new park and underground garage that replaced a surface parking lot directly in front of COSI.

The development of that parcel, in turn, would coincide with the implementation of a plan to create a public passageway through COSI, complete with retail shops and restaurants. It’s an idea that first showed up on a list of projects receiving state money earlier this year, and Worley confirmed that the project is being spearheaded by the CDDC and is moving forward, with funding to come from a still-to-be-determined public-private partnership.

As for why Buckingham was dropped from the Scioto Peninsula development after beating out three other teams of finalists that featured local developers, Worley hinted that it may have had to do with a major office tenant that was at one point attached to the project.

“We did chase a couple of large commercial opportunities,” he said, “one of which has not panned out, and (Buckingham) was really focussed on that effort.”

Amazon is the other potential commercial user, and that one remains in play, according to Worley.

“Of course our city is one of the finalists…and this might be a pretty good site for that,” he said. “And so until that comes to conclusion, we’re going to obviously respect that process…this could be a potential site for that opportunity as well.”

The CDDC is currently working with Graham Wyatt, Partner at Robert A.M. Stern Architects, to refine a plan for the overall site and develop a strategy for when to develop which portions of the acreage. Robert A.M Stern is the same firm that completed the initial vision for the site back in early 2017.  Worley also said that the CDDC has had extensive discussions with local developers to get their feedback on the project.

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