Axios Columbus

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🐫 Happy Wednesday!

⛅️ Today's weather: Partly sunny. High of 55.

🚨 Member alert: All this week, please support our local journalism by becoming an Axios Columbus member for less than $5 a month.

ğŸŽµ Sounds like: "Twilight Zone" by Golden Earring.

Today's newsletter is 920 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: ğŸ”Ž Zooming in on Zone In

The Zone In Gallery at 141 N. Front Street. Photos: Tyler Buchanan/Axios

Columbus has opened a public exhibit for residents to learn more about the city's zoning code overhaul.

Why it matters: Columbus has grown five times in size and more than doubled in population since the zoning code was last substantively updated in the 1950s.

The big picture: The Zone In project seeks to help fix our housing shortage and affordability problems by adjusting the rules of what can be built and where.

  • This space, along with an ongoing public comment period, gives residents a say on the city's formal proposal released earlier in April.

Driving the news: Axios recently toured the Zone In Gallery with Council president pro tem Rob Dorans, who chairs the Building & Zoning Policy Committee.

  • The gallery features large charts showcasing the city's growth and a touchscreen map highlighting the 4% of parcels (12,299 in total) that would fall under the new zoning guidelines.
  • Future phases of zoning reform will likely cover more areas of town, Dorans says.

What they're saying: "Our current code is restrictive," he says, a "relic" of outdated city planning that prioritized urban sprawl and vehicle travel above all else.

  • He says zoning officials currently "govern by exception" on a project-by-project basis, while a streamlined code would spur more housing by making the development and planning processes easier.

Zoom in: The proposed map features six new zoning districts targeting public transit areas where more housing density "makes the most sense," Dorans says.

  • Zone In would reshape city policy in several ways:

🏗 More density via taller buildings. Height restrictions would vary by neighborhood, with "bonus" floors approved for projects that include affordable housing.

  • Reasonable limits would remain in place, Dorans says: "This isn't gonna turn Bethel Road into Manhattan."

🛏️ 🍽️ Embrace mixed-use spaces. The existing code typically separates commercial and residential spaces, but the new code would encourage mixed-use buildings and more walkable neighborhoods.

❌ No more parking requirements. Developers would choose how many spaces to build.

Be smart: See the proposed map … read more about Zone In … share feedback.

What's next

Large gallery exhibits showcasing new zoning code policies for Columbus.
The gallery features large displays of the new zoning code proposal.

2. 🏫 OSU hiring leader for new civic center

Salmon P. Chase, a 19th-century Ohio governor and chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, is the namesake of a new OSU student civic center. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

A new civic center at OSU dedicated to "intellectual diversity" is searching for its first executive director.

Why it matters: The Salmon P. Chase Center for Civics, Culture and Society was created by GOP lawmakers as part of a broader effort to curb what they perceive to be campus liberalism.

State of play: The center was approved and funded throughthe state budget last summer.

  • Sen. Jerry C. Cirino, R-Kirtland, has alleged that university faculty are "predominantly liberal" and the center is meant to "move the dial just a little bit in favor of true intellectual diversity."
  • Cirino has proposed other reforms to higher education, like banning mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion programs and prohibiting campuses from opining on "any controversial belief or policy" except for supporting U.S. foreign wars.

Between the lines: OSU has opposed most of these efforts, but endorsed the creation of the center.

Zoom in: The state budget allocates $10 million over two years toward the center, which "shall conduct teaching and research in the historical ideas, traditions, and texts that have shaped the American constitutional order and society."

  • It is required to have at least 15 tenure-track faculty members.

What's next: The center's academic council, which includes an OSU political science professor, a Capital University law professor and five other scholars from out of state, is leading a nationwide search for an executive director.

  • OSU's president will hire the director, subject to Board of Trustees approval.

3. 🍊 Kroger still our local grocery king

Data: Chain Store Guide; Note: Stores under the same brand name have been combined, e.g. Walmart and Walmart Supercenter; Chart: Axios Visuals

Kroger is once again the dominant grocery store chain in the Columbus area, per 2023 data from the sales-tracking firm Chain Store Guide.

State of play: The Cincinnati-based chain has held the top spot for several years now.

  • Kroger had a 40.6% market share in 2021, which slipped to 38.9% in 2022.
  • Its market share rose to 42.9% last year, more than double the second-place competitor, Walmart.

👀 Eye-popping stats: That amounts to nearly $3.5 billion in sales at 58 area Kroger stores.

  • Dollar General (96 area stores) and Whole Foods Market (just three) have roughly the same market share, around 2%.

Go deeper: Kroger and Albertsons, a western U.S. grocery chain, are selling hundreds of stores to encourage federal approval of a massive merger, Richard Collings writes for Axios Pro. (🔒)

Share this story with a shopper

4. Nutshells: Your local news roundup

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Alissa Widman Neese/Axios

⚽ The Crew hosts CF Monterrey at 8:15pm tonight in the Concacaf Champions Cup semifinals. (Crew)

📕 The new Reynoldsburg library branch at 1402 Brice Road opens today following an afternoon ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Columbus Metropolitan Library)

📱 Lawmakers propose banning cell phones in Ohio classrooms and requiring instruction to grades 6-12 on the "negative effects of social media on mental health." (Ohio Capital Journal)

ğŸŽ‰ A new street festival series, UnderCurrent, will take place under the "Current" sculpture at High and Gay streets, starting with an event May 17. (Downtown Columbus)

📚 The nonprofit Columbus Education Justice Coalition urges against closing local school buildings in favor of a "community school" model that offers students and families comprehensive public services. (Matter News)

💬 Quote du jour

"Why is the conversation about closing schools rather than transforming them?"
— Stuart McIntyre, Coalition steering committee member.

👀 Membership giveaway!

A young visitor makes hand shadows using spotlights with primary colors at COSI. Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Our weeklong giveaway continues. We want to celebrate our members and gain dozens more by Friday.

  • Becoming an Axios Columbus member helps us secure more resources to cover the city we love. Plus, it gets you access to members-only emails and more.

ğŸ”Ž Today's item … a $100 gift card to COSI!

All members are automatically entered.

Sweepstakes rules apply

5. 📸 Photo quiz: On the right track

Tyler is on a pedestrian walking path that crosses these sets of train tracks ... but where? Photo: Tyler Buchanan/Axios

Tyler is pictured on a pedestrian walking path somewhere in Franklin County … but where? A hint:

  • Headed west with a Spring in his step-po
  • Not too far from Buca di Beppo

📬 Hit reply with the right answer for a chance to win Axios swag!

  • We'll have the answer in tomorrow's newsletter.

This newsletter was edited by Lindsey Erdody and copy edited by Kate Sommers-Dawes and Anjelica Tan.

Our picks:

🤯 Tyler is amazed to learn Salmon P. Chase was once on the $10,000 bill.

👶 Alissa is on maternity leave.