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Timeline: A Look Back at the Events That Led to Today’s Scioto Peninsula Groundbreaking

Brent Warren Brent Warren Timeline: A Look Back at the Events That Led to Today’s Scioto Peninsula GroundbreakingA view of the full, multi-phase redevelopment planned for the Scioto Peninsula, looking east toward Downtown. Rendering courtesy of Columbus Downtown Development Corporation.
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Today’s groundbreaking on the Scioto Peninsula is being celebrated as a milestone for Downtown Columbus, but it was a long time in the making.

The seven-acre first phase of the project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2022, with the full 26-acre site perhaps being built-out in about a decade’s time.

Here’s a timeline of events that have led up to the first dirt being moved on the site:

1908: The Plan for the City of Columbus is released, in which a rectangular greenspace framed by monumental public buildings is envisioned for the peninsula. Many other proposals are floated for the site over the course of the next hundred years.

2010: The 2010 Downtown Strategic Plan lays out a vision for development on the peninsula that includes a large mixed-use neighborhood.

2011: On the east side of the river, Civic Center Drive is reduced from five to three lanes and a walkway with fountains, colonnades and swings is built. More improvements are made to the public spaces along the river Downtown, an area that is rebranded as the Scioto Mile.

2012: The CDDC officially begins a public planning process for the site.

August, 2013: The first renderings are released of the new plan for the peninsula. Included in this vision is a new veterans museum and a park built over an underground parking garage in front of COSI.

November, 2013: The Main Street dam is demolished, creating a narrower, deeper Scioto River and freeing up 33 acres of land, which over the course of the next two years is developed into the Scioto Greenways.

June, 2014: The Columbus Zoo abandons a plan to build an attraction called Downtown Adventure on a three-acre triangle of land across West Town Street from COSI. That piece of land will remain empty for the immediate future, as it is not a part of the first phase of the development.

September, 2016: COSI announces a partnership with the American Museum of Natural History that will result in a new, permanent dinosaur exhibit at the museum.

February, 2017: The first iteration of the plan that is now being built is released. Although the overall scale of the mixed-use development has not changed dramatically, some of the elements that were envisioned – like two large residential towers, each over 30 stories – have been eliminated.

April, 2017: Four finalists to develop the site were announced, each with a different vision for the development.

November, 2017: The 6.5-acre Dorrian Green opens, immediately to the west of COSI. It sits on top of a 600-space parking garage.

December, 2017: Indianapolis-based Buckingham Companies was selected to be the master developer of the site.

February, 2018: Money for a “COSI Connection Corridor” is included in the state budget. Guy Worley of the CDDC told CU last week that his group is “not focusing on that right now; we are in a global pandemic and our cultural amenities are struggling…our focus is on the mixed-use portion of the peninsula site.”

June, 2018: Buckingham Companies is dropped as the master developer of the site. The CDDC assumes that role and lines up different developers for each distinct portion of the project.

October, 2018: The National Veterans Memorial and Museum opens on the site of the former Franklin County Veterans Memorial building, which was demolished in 2015.

August, 2019: A detailed plan for the first phase of the development is unveiled.

October 2019: The plan is presented to the Downtown Commission for the first time.

May 2020: The commission approves the first phase in a virtual meeting, the first held since all public meetings were shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

June 2020: Other elements of the plan are approved by the commission in subsequent meetings, like the two parking garages and a pedestrian-friendly street that will run down the middle of the new development.

September 2020: A groundbreaking ceremony is held, with work on the first phase of buildings scheduled to be completed in about two years.

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