What Makes a Vibrant Downtown Columbus



What makes a neighborhood? There was a day when the naysayers outnumbered the developers who saw gold in the empty lots and vacant warehouses and decided to build condos and apartments for a would-be downtown residential neighborhood. On this hour of “All Sides,” we’ll talk about downtown Columbus development projects, on location at the 2012 Columbus Arts Festival!


  • Susan Ungar (President, Downtown Residents Association of Columbus)
  • Alan McKnight (Director, Columbus Recreation and Parks)
  • Nate Caplin (Realtor, Columbus Lofts.com)

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Click here for more information on the 2012 Columbus Arts Festival.

Click here for more information on the Downtown Residents Association of Columbus.

Click here for more information about the Columbus Department of Recreation and Parks.

Click here for more information on ColumbusLofts.com.

Join The Conversation

  • Keith Morris

    Since I moved from Columbus (downtown population 6,000) to Minneapolis (downtown population 28,000) I’ve seen a lot of what I advised Columbus city council to do, but never took seriously: revamping streets to cater to bikes, pedestrians, and rail transit.

    Over here, there’s a light rail line that connects to the airport and then a major mall and in downtown it works just like a streetcar running east-west Downtown within walking distance of a number of multi-block business districts and special occasion spots like sports stadiums and the convention center. Columbus needs the equivalent: a light-rail line from Easton to the airport and ending at the Arena District which would do wonders or even just getting the 1st streetcar line would help, but residents just aren’t progressive enough for that to happen.

    Bike lanes are plentiful up here as is bike parking, though there is room for improvement, it’s light years ahead of Columbus despite how cheap and easy it would be to get done. Downtown needs to cater to bikes and likewise connect neighborhoods to Downtown seamlessly like over here. In Columbus I can ride a sharrowed street into Downtown or take the Olentangy trail to Downtown, but bike infrastructure ends upon arriving there and from Olde Towne East or German Village or Franklinton you’re own your own. On-street bike parking like the bike corral on Oak and 18th which provides parking for 12 bikes sends the message that bikes are on equal footing with cars and would be great in multiple downtown locations, but instead of a couple hundred of those citywide which would dwarf Portland’s 133, city leaders opted for 10 covered bike shelters, each of which accommodates the same number of bikes for over 10x the price of one bike corral: Columbus fears being #1 in anything. Could’ve one-up Portland and Minneapolis, but instead made a concerted effort to opt for mediocrity. There’s no bikeshare like up here, but they are “considering” implementing our system there.


    Retail-wise it’s great to see that there’s a centrally located grocery store set to open, but as far as major retailers go the city would have to wait until real car alternatives like bike infrastructure and mass transit is available for a good base of downtown and non-downtown residents. In the meantime, the walkable commercial blocks on S High should be the focus for rounding out local business clusters Downtown. Unlike Mpls, Columbus doesn’t have much to work with as far as intact downtown business districts, nor has it revitalized most surrounding neighborhoods (Franklinton, Near East, and Near South saw huge population losses from 2000-2010), so that’s an extra challenge that Columbus faces.

    Columbus’ problem is that it’s a conservative city that thinks it’s liberal. It likes to *talk* about downtown bike lanes, streetcars, being pedestrian-friendly and such, but as to when it will actually follow through, who knows? If Columbus was serious, these wouldn’t be in the talking or “considering” stages, but already done and Downtown would be benefiting greatly today.