Elements of Urbanism: Columbus, Ohio

July 31, 2012 26 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

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


The Arena District is a 75-acre mixed use urban infill and master planned development.  It centers around Nationwide Arena, the home of the Columbus Blue Jackets NHL team. The district is also the site of Huntington Park, the new home for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. Additionally, the outdoor music venue Lifestyle Communities Pavilion, as well as the Arena Grand Theatre are both located in the Arena District. It is developed, managed and marketed by Nationwide Realty Investors, the real estate development affiliate of Nationwide, which has its world headquarters in Columbus.

Before its creation in the late 1990s, the area was home to the Ohio Penitentiary, closed since 1983. The Penitentiary was demolished in 1998.

Completed in 2009, Huntington Park is a $70 million, 10,100 seat ballpark.  It is the home of the Columbus Clippers, a Triple-A minor league baseball team currently affiliated with the Cleveland Indians.

The 20,000 seat Nationwide Arena opened in 2000 and is the home of the National Hockey League's (NHL) Columbus Blue Jackets.

Also known as Arch Park, McFerson Commons is a 2.2 acre green space in the Arena District. The central point of the park is the old Union Station arch. The entire Union Station was demolished in the 1970's except for this arch which was reconstructed in McFerson Commons prior to the move. This park over looks Nationwide Arena to the North and the new North Bank Park can be seen just to the south.
Open lawn is used for kickball, flag football, and special events. Contains arch from Union Train Station designed by Daniel Burnham in 1983. Arch was main portal at entry to station that once stood along high street where the convention center now stands.

Ohio’s capital city, like many others in 19th century America, built a series of public markets to facilitate agricultural and industrial as well as retail trade around the middle of the 19th century.

By the mid-20th century, changing demographics and shopping preferences, coupled with a series of fires left Columbus with only one public market, the North Market, which after a 1947 fire was housed in a Quonset hut erected by the Merchant’s Association.

In 1988, a group called the North Market Development Authority was established as part of a movement to restore the market and the market concept to its former status as a vital part of the Columbus community. The suburbanization of the city had dealt the downtown area an economic blow, but the success of the movement to preserve Columbus’ German Village neighborhood provided an example that large-scale neighborhood rehabilitation was possible in the capital city. In 1982, the North Market District was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places by the Columbus Landmarks Foundation and in December 1992, Nationwide Insurance sold the NMDA the former Advanced Thresher farm machinery warehouse located just behind the market’s original High Street location. The rehabilitated warehouse, financed by $5 million raised by NDMA from corporate and city sources, reopened as the new North Market in November 1995.

The market can be thought of as a concept somewhere between a shopping mall and a supermarket. Its retail space is leased out to independent merchants and artisans who operate within the market. The current 36 merchants are a mixture of delis, bakeries, pastry shops, ethnic food restaurants, specialty goods stores, and produce stands. One million shoppers visit the North Market every year, and many regular customers develop personal relationships with the owners and operators of the market’s businesses.

The Greater Columbus Convention Center was constructed in 1993 and expanded in 1999.  The 1,700,000-square-foot facility includes 426,000 square feet of exhibition space, two ballrooms and 61 meeting rooms.

The Hyde Park Steakhouse occupies a retail space constructed over Interstate 670.  Columbus-based developer Continental Real Estate opened the $7.5 million Cap project in 2004, with public funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation and the city of Columbus. The shopping strip offers 27,000 square feet of space for retail and restaurants, and serves as a connecting bridge between downtown Columbus and the Short North.

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