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Scioto Peninsula: Here’s More Info on the New Proposal

Brent Warren Brent Warren Scioto Peninsula: Here’s More Info on the New ProposalView of the Belle Street side of the proposed hotel, courtesy of Rockbridge Capital.
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Last week’s big news about the Scioto Peninsula was the first update on plans for the well-positioned piece of land in over a year. We know now that three different developers have been selected to build the first phase of the project – two from Central Ohio, one from Indianapolis – and that those developers have been working with the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC) to come up with an outline of what that first phase will look like.

Today we have more information about those initial plans to share. Read on for details on the planned parking garage, the hotel portion of the proposal, and the status of a concept floated nearly two years ago to build a retail corridor through COSI.

COSI Corridor Project

A plan to build a passageway through COSI – one that would be open to the public and potentially contain retail and restaurant options – was granted $5 million in funding from the state capital budget in 2018. The CDDC was the entity that applied for the funding, but has not shared much information about the proposal since.

Amy Taylor, Chief Operating Officer of the CDDC, told CU that the COSI project is “still occurring,” although no final decisions have been made about the design of the corridor, or whether or not it will include a retail element.

“The concept is to connect COSI to the riverfront and to the new development to the west,” she said, adding that the goal is to be “complementary to what is now happening on the peninsula.”

Because plans for the first six buildings include ground-level space devoted to retail and restaurant uses, that could mean the focus of the COSI project will change, although Taylor wasn’t providing any specifics.

“We’re now getting into the details of the COSI building and looking at what is going to increase footfall…COSI does a great job at hitting its target market, but how can we increase that?” Taylor asked, adding, “COSI is an asset; how can we make it an even greater asset?”

Hotel and Retail

When Rockbridge CEO Jim Merkel spoke to CU last month about plans for a hotel in the proposed North Market development, he said that it was the first of “several” local projects that the company was currently working on. Now that we know the Scioto Peninsula is one of those, let the speculation begin on what else the Easton-based company might have in the pipeline.

Plans for the hotel portion of the project actually call for two separate buildings – an eight-story hotel that will will front Belle Street, and a smaller, five-to-six story hotel to the west that would be built after the larger building (as part of what is being called a “phase 1-B”).

The area between the two hotels is envisioned as a central gathering space featuring bars and restaurants. Rooftop patios at various levels and outdoor seating would complement what the developers hope is a lively atmosphere.

Expect some craft beer offerings and upscale dining, as well as “charming storefronts,” said Taylor, that will “take the best of Columbus and bring it here.”

The three developers have been working together to ensure that there is a good mix of options, she added; “we don’t need three coffee shops.”

Parking and Transit

The parking garage proposed for the western edge of the new development will likely be five stories tall, and will hold about 1,400 cars. The City of Columbus will be financing the structure.

Steve Schoeny, Director of Development for the city, said that the final cost of the garage is still being determined.

“It will be financed with some combination of city capital dollars and parking revenue,” he added.

Taylor said that the garage will be shared by residents, office workers, hotel guests and visitors.

“The developers provided us the number of spaces they need in the garage, which are all at the lower end of the ratios we’d expect,” she said. “I know they have factored transit use and alternative mobility options (rather than an individual driving a car) into these parking ratios.”

Taylor added that the team at CDDC has had “great conversations” with Joanna Pinkerton, CEO of the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), and with the leaders of Smart Columbus about how the Scioto Peninsula can continue to be a testing ground for ideas like the Smart Circuit shuttle.

Other Tidbits

Each of the three developers selected for the first phase has been working with a different architect. Moody Nolan is designing the office portion, NBBJ is working on the residential buildings, and Rockbridge has chosen Denver-based Johnson Nathan Strohe to design the hotel element.

The Scioto Peninsula project represents the first “ground-up” development in Columbus for Flaherty & Collins, but this is not the Indianapolis-based company’s first attempt to break into the market. Flaherty & Collins was one of seven developers to submit proposals to redevelop the North Market parking lot in 2017, although its vision for the site was not selected.

The new development will be eligible for 15-year, 100% property tax abatements because it is within the downtown Community Reinvestment Area.

The CDDC is hoping to break ground in the spring, but the plans for the first phase of the development will need to be presented to the Downtown Commission for approval before that can happen. The project is not listed on the agenda for this month’s meeting.

Rendering of the proposed development looking east, courtesy of the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation.
The site is mostly fields and parking lots, as this Google Maps image shows. Dorrian Green is under construction in the photo.
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