Elements of Urbanism: Columbus, Ohio

July 31, 2012 31 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville visits a peer community with a vibrant downtown in Central Ohio: Columbus

Tale of the Tape:

Columbus Pop. 2011: 797,434 (City); 1,858,464 (Metro-2011) - (incorporated in 1812)

Jacksonville Pop. 2011: 827,908 (City); 1,360,251 (Metro-2011) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Columbus (375,901)

Metropolitan Area Growth Rate (2010-2011)

Columbus: +1.19%
Jacksonville: +1.09%

Urban Area Population (2010 census)

Columbus: 1,368,035 (ranked 36 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 1,065,219 (ranked 40 nationwide)

Urban Area Population Density (2010 census)

Columbus: 2,680.0 people per square mile
Jacksonville: 2,008.5 people per square mile

City Population Growth from 2000 to 2011

Columbus: +85,964
Jacksonville: +92,405

Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Columbus: Greater Columbus Convention Center (1993)  - 426,000 square feet
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1986) - 78,500 square feet

Attached to Convention Center:

Columbus: Hyatt Regency Commons (631 rooms), Drury Inn & Suites (180 rooms)
Jacksonville: N/A

Tallest Building:

Columbus: Rhodes State Office Tower - 629 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet

Fortune 500 companies:

Columbus: Nationwide (100), American Electric Power (176), Limited Brands (256), Momentive Specialty Chemicals (452), Big Lots (476)
Jacksonville: CSX (226), Winn-Dixie Stores (363), Fidelity National Information Services (425), Fidelity National Financial (472)

Urban infill obstacles:

Columbus: Downtown is walled off from adjacent neighborhoods by loop formed by three expressways.
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off Downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.

Downtown Nightlife:

Columbus: Gay Street, Short North, Arena & Brewery Districts.
Jacksonville: East Bay Street

Common Downtown Albatross:

Surface parking lots.

Who's Downtown is more walkable?

Columbus: 86 out of 100, according to walkscore.com
Jacksonville: 78 out of 100, according to walkscore.com

About Downtown Columbus

Downtown Columbus centers around the intersection of Broad Street and High Street, with the northeast corners being known simple as Broad & High by the surrounding businesses and media. Downtown as a whole encompasses all the area inside the inner belt and is home to most of the largest buildings in Columbus. The State Capitol is located on the southeast corner of Broad & High, in Capitol Square. Downtown is also home to Columbus State Community College, Franklin University, Columbus College of Art and Design, Grant Medical Center, as well as the main branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, the Main Street Bridge and many parks. Downtown has many neighborhoods or "districts", but it can easily be separated into three main areas; The Discovery District, High Street Corridor, and the Riverfront. The Short North, Italian Village, and Victorian Village are directly north of Downtown. Olde Towne East, and the historic King-Lincoln District are directly east, while the Brewery District and German Village are directly south of Downtown. Franklinton is to the west of Downtown, with a portion of Franklinton in Downtown.In the northwest area is the Arena District, a mixed-use development centered around Nationwide Arena, the home of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Arena District also includes the baseball stadium Huntington Park and the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion.
Downtown is currently home to approximately 11,000 residents.

The Brewery District dates back to 1836 when its first brewery was opened by German immigrant Louis Hoster.  At the height of its success, there were five breweries located in the area. As the years passed, consolidation of the breweries took place. However, the market went south when in 1919 the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) was approved. The area declined, becoming home to some industry and warehouses. In recent years, redevelopment has taken place on a large scale, with numerous restaurants, bars, and even a grocery store coming to the area.

The Westin Columbus Hotel was originally known as the Great Southern Fireproof Hotel and Opera House when it opened in 1897.

The new $105 million, 325,000-square-foot Franklin County Courthouse opened in June 2011. Much of the design work on the courthouse focused on making the building environmentally friendly. That includes a sod-like green roof to reduce storm-water runoff into city sewers, a building layout designed to reduce heating and cooling loads, low-flow and dual-flush plumbing fixtures and exterior sun shades to cut glare and heat gain. There also is a rain garden and collection tank to catch and store water for irrigation of courthouse landscaping and a series of high windows help pull daylight to illuminated interior spaces.

Columbus Commons is a 9-acre park located on the site of the former Columbus City Center Mall. With the decline of Columbus City Center, plans were announced in February 2009 to replace the mall with a project that includes an urban park, homes, offices, restaurants and shops. In April 2009, Capitol South requested federal stimulus funds to help finance the demolition of the mall and construction of the park, but was rejected. Financing eventually came in the form of Columbus City Council allowing Capitol South to refinance existing City Center parking garage loans and use funds earmarked for downtown housing. CDDC, Capitol South, the Franklin County Commissioners and Columbus Metro Parks, funded the creation of Columbus Commons with a goal to redevelop this downtown property. The first phase of the project cost a total of $20 million. Demolition of City Center began in September 2009 and construction of the Columbus Commons began in mid 2010. The design team was made up of construction manager Corna-Kokosing, architects Moody Nolan and landscape architects EDGE Group. The park opened to the public on Memorial Day weekend 2011.

The Scioto River rises in west central Ohio and flows 231 miles south to where it meets the Ohio River at Portsmouth.  During the antebellum years, the Scioto River provided a route to freedom for many enslaved people escaping from the South, as they continued north after crossing the Ohio River. Too small for modern commercial shipping, its primary economic importance is for recreation and drinking water.

The Scioto Mile is an urban oasis comprised of more than 145 acres of lush parkland. Stretching along the riverfront from the vibrant Arena District to the natural beauty of the Whittier Peninsula, the Scioto Mile reconnects downtown to the Scioto River through an integrated system of parks, boulevards, bikeways and pedestrian paths. The $40 million riverfront investment opened in July 2011 and was a part of a city's five-part revitalization plan created in 2002.

The Palace Theatre is a 2,827-seat restored movie palace that originally opened in 1926.

The intersection of Broad & High Streets is the epicenter of downtown Columbus.

Built between 1839 and 1861, the Ohio Statehouse anchors the southeast corner of Broad & High Streets.

Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) is the largest state pension fund in Ohio.  OPERS' 12-story office tower was completed in 2002 and is adjacent to the Grant Medical Center. Established in 1900, Grant Medical Center is one of the top hospitals in the U.S. and is nationally recognized by the American College of Surgeons for its Level I Trauma Center, robotic and minimally invasive surgery, heart and vascular care, neurosciences and orthopedics.

The main branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library opened in 1907.

Formed in 1878, as the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, the Columbus Museum of Art was the first art museum to register its charter with the state of Ohio.  The museum opened in the current building on January 22, 1931.

The first services at this chapel for the Broad Street United Methodist Church were held on Easter Sunday 1885.

The Columbus College of Art  & Design (CCAD) is a private college founded in 1879 as the Columbus Art School.  With an enrollment of 1,300 full-time students, CCAD offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in nine areas: Advertising and Graphic Design, Fashion Design, Fine Arts (including painting, drawing, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, and glassblowing), Illustration, Industrial Design, Interior Design, Photography, Animation, and Media Studies including computer graphics, video and computer animation. In addition to major areas of concentration, CCAD also offers specialized courses of study in art therapy, fashion illustration, product design, package design.

Over the last decade, the Gay Street corridor has been a focal point of city leadership.  To stimulate redevelopment, developers along the corridor have recieved low interest loans, a new parking garage and the conversion of the former one way street into a bi-direcational livable street.

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