Downtown Columbus, OH

Downtown Columbus has many subdistricts  but the main three can be separated into:
– the Discovery District (eastern edge)
– the High Street Corridor (main north-south St.), also called the Uptown District
– the Riverfront along the Scioto River.
Other subdistricts include the Arena District (NW portion), Capitol Square (at High and Broad), and the Columbus Civic Center (along the River).

The City of Columbus began to develop in 1812 with the purpose of creating the state’s new capital. This was originally layer out across the river in Franklinton, but quickly shifted to Downtown Cbus. The current statehouse was built in 1857. By the turn of the 20th century, office and commercial activity was concentrated along High and Broad  in addition to Long and Gay Streets. Surrounding these areas was several mostly residential neighborhoods including German village to the South, Market Mohawk to the SE, large high-end mansions further east along Broad, and Fly town where the Arena District stands now.

The Post WWII era brought many modern high-rises  helping Dwtn attract more office jobs. Columbus also engaged in very intense urban renewal efforts leading to the wholesale removal of much of its southern southwestern, and eastern edges. This left behind large swaths of dead spots comprised of surface parking lots, and low rise buildings. Fortunately the character of Dwtn has slowly improved for the better the past two decades thanks to several new parks, the Arena District, revitalization of in-tact historic streets like High, Gay, and Long, and significant in-fill throughout. Dwtn has also invested much in its streetscaping and bike infrastructure.

The next stage in Dwtn Cbus’ urban growth evolution is to become a solid place to live. This requires more residents, in-fill projects on surface parking lots, and much more retail amenities like a full service grocery store, target, and small businesses. Hopefully with Columbus’s strong market this can become a reality soon.
Click here to view my Downtown Columbus Album on Flick

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Nice set of dedicated bike lanes within Dwtn and especially out to the metro area via several trails along rivers. Dedicated bike lanes connections to City neighborhoods is not terribly comprehensive. Good dedicated bike coverage Dwtn and to many inner-city neighborhoods in Cbus.
* Very gridded Dwtn street network but plenty of wide 1-way streets. Fortunately many of these converted a parking lane to dedicated bike travel.
* Generally good ADA infrastructure depending on what part of Dwtn one is at.
* Lots of good urban in-fill being built Dwtn, helpful to offset some of the awful stuck built between the 1960s-1980s.
* While not to the level of Dwtn Cleve or Cincy, the buzz of Dwtn Cbus is improving.
* Culturally several modest  museums Dwtn including the Art, State House, the Cultural Arts Center, the Fire Museum , and several historic homes. The Veterans & COSI museums are just across the River in Franklinton. Good array of performing arts theaters mixing historic and new theaters, including many small theaters. Cbus also has an Opera and Ballet. Also a decent array of art galleries, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and live music venues.
* Dwtn hosts both a NHL stadium , MLS team, and minor league baseball park in the Arena District. The Convention Center is on the border with the Short North.
* At 25%, pretty high pct of households are family households. Pretty good for Dwtn.
* Pretty good array of for-sale product, generally higher end but good diversity. 1-bed condos sale btwn 150K-350K. 2-beds are at a similar price but some higher end product in the 400Ks&500Ks especially when you include townhomes. Good array of 3-bed product selling btwn 500K-1M.
* Good amount of rental product, typically priced for American Dwtns. 1-bedrooms lease in the $1,000s, 2-bedrooms in the 1,000s& 2,000s. 3-bedrooms are pretty limited.
* Dwtn Cbus has come a long way with improving its parks Dwtn in the past decade building the Scioto Mile Promenade, Bicentennial Park, Columbus Commons, McFerson Commons in the Arena District, and North Bank Park Pavilion. This supplements older parks & plazas such as Sensenbrenner Park, Topiary Park, and the Ohio State House Grounds.
*  Solid Dwtn employment with over 85K jobs. Vacancies are average.
* High college enrollment with nearly 34K students attending school within Dwtn. 

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

*Overall transit service in Columbus is so . Probably about middle of the pack for a major American City. Fair amount of suburban areas are within the City.
* No bus connection between dwtn and the airport
* Density is so , but improving as more in-fill res. projects come to Dwtn.
* Some spots of good vibrancy but certainly plenty of dead spaces Dwtn.
* No strong civic plaza although one could argue its either the Statehouse or Bicentennial Park. Columbus Commons was meant to be this and has good programming but was a major disappointment from a design perspective.
* Two nice high schools downtown. Also a arts middles school but located outside of the Dwtn area.
* Decent Dwtn retail and neighborhood services but not on the same level as Dwtn Cleve or Cincy. No supermarket, shopping mall, nor major retailers. But Dwtn does offer several drug stores, a hospital, Dwtn library and post office, and some boutiques and clothing stores. Better shopping amenities located in adjacent inner city district of German Village and the Short North.
* Many surface parking lots have been built on, but Columbus certainly has plenty more to go especially in the eastern half of the district. Massing is often good in areas of density and form. But also areas of crummy 1960s-1980s low rise buildings often with auto centric orientation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s