Addressing one of the top concerns facing businesses, workers and visitors to downtown Columbus, the City and Capitol South are working together to build two new parking garages in the heart of the city, beginning in 2008.
“Creating a great downtown requires us to focus on everything from pedestrians to bikes, housing to shopping, transit to traffic, and find solutions that work,” said Mayor Michael B. Coleman. “Parking has long been the top concern of businesses thinking about moving downtown as well as the people already working in the area, and this plan will add more than 1,450 much needed spaces.”
The City and Capitol South commissioned a study in 2007 that noted additional parking is necessary in order for downtown to remain economically competitive. The City asked Capitol South to facilitate the design and construction of the two new parking facilities. Capitol South currently manages almost 6,000 parking spaces downtown, including the 4,600 spaces at the City Center garages and 1,200 spaces on the surface parking lots on the west side of the Scioto River.
“Our goal is to bring more residents, more workers, and more visitors into downtown,” said City Council President Michael C. Mentel. “I hope there is a growing realization that the economic success of downtown Columbus impacts the entire Central Ohio region. This understanding is important as we continue our efforts to bring people to the core of our city and parking must be a key priority in our comprehensive strategy for downtown redevelopment. An additional parking garage near the new Courthouse and RiverSouth District is an encouraging first step.”
Pending the approval of the Columbus City Council and the Downtown Commission, the City will begin demolition and site preparation in February for the first garage at the corner of Front and Rich streets, where the condemned, former Lazarus garage currently sits unused. This eight-level, 773-space public garage will serve the growing employee base in the RiverSouth area. Construction is set to begin in May 2008, with the garage set to open in May 2009. The $14.5 million investment includes the costs of demolition and construction. The Columbus Downtown Development Corporation currently owns the land and will donate it to City.
The City also plans to invest $15.267 million in building the second garage, a four-level, 682-space facility designed to serve the Fourth and Gay area. Due to an expanding residential neighborhood, current surface parking spaces are being eliminated. This garage is still in the initial stages of development, and several approvals are necessary prior to finalizing a construction timeline and advancing legislation.
“With all of the dynamic projects occurring downtown, we need to ensure that one of the core focuses of downtown – employment – remains a top priority. Providing access to adequate parking allows downtown to remain competitive, locally, regionally and nationally,” said Guy V. Worley, President & CEO of Capitol South. “With 80% of the downtown employees driving to work, parking remains a top priority for downtown’s revitalization.”
Phase one of road conversions, from one way to two way, is set to begin this summer. Estimated cost of this phase of conversions and the associated streetscapes, utility upgrades, resurfacing, new sidewalks and ADA-compliant ramps is $9.5 million.
– Front (Broad to Rich) – Brick turn lanes, street trees, rain garden, ornamental street lights ($6.3 million)
– Ludlow (Town to Rich) – street trees, ornamental lighting, rain garden ($1.5m)
– Wall (Town to Rich) – street will be all brick, shrubs, ornamental lighting ($1m)
– Rich (High to Ludlow) – ornamental lighting, some plantings ($750,000)
Other sections of these roads will be converted in succeeding years as other downtown projects move forward.
The City of Columbus is helping lead the implementation of the Downtown Business Plan with the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation and local businesses. 2007 marks the fifth year of the 10-year plan to bring new investment, energy and activity into downtown. There is a new market for downtown housing – with more than 4,700 housing units opened or opening soon, the opening of North Bank Park, AEP’s Foundation and the City’s commitment of $10 million each to the Scioto Mile Parks, and private partners looking at developing acres of surface parking lots into new housing and retail throughout the district. Since 2002, the Mayor also has worked with 35 companies, keeping 583 jobs in the district and getting commitments for 2,385 more jobs to be created. The total new investment in downtown since 2000 is estimated at $2.19 billion, with $711 million in public funding helping leverage $1.48 billion in private investment. This includes projects proposed, under construction, or built since 2000.