Feb 6, 2024 - News

Downtown Columbus' housing options are on the rise

Data: RentCafe; Table: Axios Visuals
Data: RentCafe; Table: Axios Visuals

Huntington's recently announced plan to sell three historic downtown skyscrapers for housing and retail redevelopment is the latest update in an ongoing push to make downtown more livable.

Why it matters: Converting underused office space into residential units is a key part of many big cities' efforts to adapt to post-pandemic realities and create much-needed housing, Axios' Kate Marino reports.

Driving the news: Columbus' pipeline for turning old office buildings into new apartments is among the nation's hottest, per RentCafe's latest annual report on the topic, based on Yardi Matrix data.

  • About 1,000 new units are expected this year, a 35% increase from last year.

Zoom in: The three biggest projects are:

The latest: Huntington is in the early stages of working with the Columbus Downtown Development Corp. to identify potential buyers for its three buildings "to suit modern needs."

By the numbers: City Council's goal is to reach 40,000 downtown residents by 2040.

  • Downtown's population was about 11,650 in 2022 and has been steadily rising over the past two decades, per the most recent State of Downtown report.
  • Office vacancies have also been rising, doubling from about 10% in 2016 to over 21% in 2022.
Data: 2022 State of Downtown Columbus report; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: 2022 State of Downtown Columbus report; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: The number of new units expected nationally from office-to-apartment flips in 2024 — roughly 55,300 — is more than quadruple what it was in 2021, according to RentCafe.

Yes, but: Completing such projects is often easier said than done. RentCafe's analysis included those that are under conversion, as well as planned and prospective redevelopment.

💭 My thought bubble: As a former Capitol Square worker who now works from home, I'm hopeful these plans will help revive and reimagine a part of our city that once felt bustling every day.

  • I still visit downtown occasionally. While the situation has improved, the impact of flexible working arrangements is still clear, based on the foot traffic I see and my former lunch staples that have disappeared.
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