Mar 11, 2024 - News

Report highlights Columbus' ever-changing downtown

A bird's eye view of the Scioto River and downtown Columbus.

A scenic view of downtown Columbus. Photo: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

An entirely new neighborhood built on the Scioto Peninsula. A $100 million "urban pathway." And the potential return of passenger rail service.

Why it matters: There's so much change on the horizon for downtown Columbus and so many development goals set by local leaders, making it worth taking a regular view from 1,000 feet to track our progress.

Driving the news: The Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District recently released its 2023 report on the "State of Downtown Columbus."

  • Here's what we learned from the 48-page report:

๐Ÿ— Construction is everywhere. Nearly two-dozen projects totaling over $1 billion are currently being built, from the massive Merchant Building to the first phase of the Grant Medical Center expansion.

  • Dozens more projects are in development, totaling $1.7 billion, like the renovation of a historic church to become a performance venue.
  • There's also the ongoing Interstate 70/71 project, which started in 2010 and feels like it will continue until we have flying cars.

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ง Population goals vs. reality. Columbus wants 40,000 people to live downtown by 2040, but it has a long way to go.

  • 12,000 residents lived there at the end of 2023, a modest 3% increase over 2022.
  • The report tallies 9,413 residential units, with an additional 1,609 under construction.

The intrigue: Officials bemoan the local housing shortage, but downtown apartment occupancy actually dropped slightly last year.

  • Around 89.5% of apartments were occupied last year, compared to 94% across the rest of Central Ohio.

By the numbers: Steep prices could be to blame โ€” the average rent was $1,520 for a 1-bedroom apartment and $2,158 for 2+ bedrooms.

  • That's significantly more expensive than average rents ($988 and $1,340) elsewhere in the region.

๐Ÿค” Be like Cleveland? The report credits The Land for aggressively converting vacant office space into apartments and encourages Columbus to do the same.

Reality check: We're working on it, but there's potential for more.

  • Despite the cheapest lease rates seen in decades, Columbus' downtown office vacancy rate has jumped since 2019 to 21%, thanks largely to people working from home.

More report tidbits from 2023:

๐Ÿฝ $110,000: The amount paid out to restaurants through the LunchBucks discount program.

๐Ÿฅ— 23: New restaurants that opened downtown, the highest yearly total in the past decade.

๐Ÿ›๏ธ $173.43: The average daily rate in one of 20 downtown hotels.

๐Ÿšฒ 65,332: Trips taken via the CoGo bike share program, a yearly record.

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