Nov 29, 2023 - News

Maybe downtown Columbus isn't so recovered, after all

Downtown foot traffic recovery, spring 2023
Data: University of Toronto; Note: Downtown defined as the central location with the highest concentration of employment in each metro area; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

It turns out our downtown may not be the post-pandemic success story many had celebrated.

Driving the news: Downtown Columbus' number of unique visitors this spring reached only 56.5% of pre-pandemic levels, per an updated analysis from the University of Toronto's School of Cities that tracks cell phone activity.

Flashback: An earlier version of the research placed Columbus at No. 4, showing activity exceeding pre-pandemic levels, before researchers changed their methodology. That resulted in different boundaries for our downtown area.

Zoom in: Under the old methodology, "downtown" was expansive, including spots that locals likely wouldn't — such as a southern portion of the bustling Short North and a stretch of Dublin Road just south of Grandview.

  • Now, it's scaled back considerably, stopping north near Vine Street and with a western border following the curve of the Scioto River.
A map of downtown Columbus showing the old and new boundaries used in the University of Toronto study
Data: University of Toronto; Note: Downtown defined as the central location with the highest concentration of employment in each metro area; Map: Axios Visuals

The bottom line: It's hard to gauge how well we're progressing if the goal post moves.

What we're watching: City officials are trying lots of things to bolster downtown activity, including approving new apartment buildings, offering business incentives and launching programs like LunchBucks.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Columbus.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Columbus stories

No stories could be found

Columbuspostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Columbus.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more