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Work Continues – For Now – on These Major Construction Projects

Brent Warren Brent Warren Work Continues – For Now – on These Major Construction ProjectsThe future WOSU headquarters building at 15th and High. Photos by Brent Warren.
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Keep up with regular news updates regarding Columbus and Ohio’s response to COVID-19 here.

Governor Mike DeWine’s “Stay at Home” order went into effect on March 24, but work on some of the biggest construction projects in Columbus is continuing.

The order defines construction as “essential infrastructure,” meaning that workers will be expected to continue to report to building sites, as long as employers are following the state’s safety guidelines.

If employers are not following those guidelines, Governor DeWine has said that employees should first discuss the issue with their employer, then contact their local health department – residents of Columbus and Worthington can contact Columbus Public Health online or over the phone.

As for what type of construction falls under the essential category, the language of the order is fairly broad: “including, but not limited to,” it states, “construction required in response to this public health emergency, hospital construction, construction of long-term care facilities, public works construction, school construction, essential business construction, and housing construction.”

Even before the official state order, significant disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic had already been felt by developers, architects, and others in the industry. New proposals are not getting reviewed by the citizen panels that normally approve them, and uncertainty about the economy has put many early-stage projects on hold for now.

See below for updates on several of the biggest projects currently underway in Columbus, and stay tuned to Columbus Underground for more development updates in the near future.

Convention Center Hotel

Preliminary site work just began in December on the 28-story hotel tower that will eventually be connected to the existing Hilton hotel across High Street.

Don Brown, Executive Director of the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, said that “the construction schedule for expansion of the Hilton Columbus Downtown remains unchanged.”

“The project’s construction managers, Turner and Smoot, continue to work on shoring and site excavation in preparation for foundation work,” he added. “Barring unforeseen conditions, the CFA expects to open the tower addition in the first quarter of 2022.”

After the new tower is open, the guest rooms and public spaces in the existing Hilton tower (on the west side of High Street), will be renovated, Brown said. That work is scheduled to be be completed by June of 2022, and “at that time all 1,000 rooms in the convention hotel will be available to the public.” 

CoverMyMeds Office Campus

Work is also continuing on the $240 million office complex now going up in Franklinton, according to Angela Tavrell of CoverMyMeds.

“At this time, our construction schedule remains on track,” she said. “Our teams are taking every precaution necessary to protect crews on site with an emphasis on prevention, social distancing and the protocols outlined for essential businesses in the Stay At Home order.”

“We are continuously monitoring the situation globally, nationally and within our communities based on real-time updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and state health departments, and will make any adjustments necessary to prioritize the health and safety of people on the job site,” Tavrell added. “We’re grateful for our construction teams and the trades who continue this important work for our staff and for the community.”

Founders Park

Thrive Companies (formerly Wagenbrenner Development), is overseeing several significant developments at various stages of construction, including Founders Park and Jeffrey Park. Co Ingersoll of Thrive Companies provided the following statement when asked about the current status of the developer’s projects:

In full compliance with the Governor’s recent ‘Shelter In Place Order’, Thrive Companies is keeping its already active, essential construction sites open. Extensive safety protocol as it relates to COVID-19 have been communicated to and implemented for all Thrive personnel and contractor/vendor business partners for every site – extended social distancing requirements, no in-person meetings, no visitors inside construction trailers, the use of protective gloves are required, disinfectant washing stations have been set up for both personal care and for contractor tools, etc. Thrive will continue to do everything it can to help keep those in the construction industry employed in open-air, safe environments during these challenging times. 

Construction of the new OSU Arts District continues.

OSU Construction

Work is continuing on the many active construction sites on the Ohio State University campus, including the new Postle Hall and the new Health Sciences Faculty Office and Optometry Clinic, both of which are located on Neil Avenue.

“Ohio State has reviewed the Health Department order and, at this time, we will continue construction activities as an essential infrastructure service,” said Dan Hedman of the Office of Administration and Planning. “We continue to evaluate and revise our process as needed. Health and safety remains a top priority and we did share with all contractors that it is critically important that we continue to practice proper hygiene and follow the social distancing requirements to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.”

“Ohio State’s Environmental Health and Safety team is available to provide an onsite overview of health and safety tips for our construction teams,” he added, “and we continue to share health and safety information.”

15th and High

The 15th and High project does not fall under the direct purview of OSU – it is being managed by the nonprofit Campus Partners.

“At this time, construction is proceeding,” said Erin Prosser, the organization’s Director of Community Development. “Campus Partners is abiding by Governor DeWine’s directives and taking all necessary precautions to limit the spread of the virus. With the fluidity of the situation we are constantly reviewing and adapting our plans so that we remain in compliance with federal and state guidelines.”

For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Another view of the future WOSU headquarters in the 15th and High development.
A view of the development from East 15th Avenue.
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