COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — At least half a dozen new apartment buildings pitched in place of surface parking lots and aging buildings could be etched into the near-future plans for Downtown Columbus.
Between two meetings, six proposals have appeared on the Columbus Downtown Commission’s agenda for mixed-used and residential buildings ranging from five to 19 stories — some requiring the demolition of existing buildings. Two of those six proposals will be heard at the Tuesday meeting of the commission, which reviews and OKs project applications for any development in city limits.
A proposed 15-story, mixed-use building on South High and South Wall Street — just down the street from the Columbus Commons — would require two existing condemned buildings to be demolished, according to an application by developer Town High Plaza. The historic Ohio National Bank, which sits next door, would be restored to serve a retail use as part of the project.
The project application details 10 floors of 200 total residential units above three floors of parking, and part of the ground floor dedicated to retail use.
Although the proposal by Town High Plaza was originally scheduled to be discussed at the May meeting, it was withdrawn from the agenda on Monday.
Another proposal for consideration on Tuesday is for a seven-story apartment building on the corner of Oak and Ninth streets — part of the Library Park project by developer Pizzuti and blocks away from the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s (CML) main branch. But the current two-story building on that plot of land would need to be razed first.
“The vacant and blighted building at 39-53 S. 9th St. is not a contributing structure to what makes this neighborhood so unique and special,” CML CEO Patrick Losinski wrote in a letter to the commission as part of the application for demolition.
The third proposal is for a five-story low-income residential building featuring 68 units dubbed Elevate 340 on Fulton Street near Nationwide Children’s Hospital, according to the application by developer Shremshock Architects. It also requires demolition.
At its most recent meeting in April, commissioners heard concept proposals for a 19-story mixed-use building on East Rich Street, a seven-story mixed-use building on East Spring Street, and a seven-story residential building on East Main Street.
Plans proposed by developer Bluestone Brothers Capital for the tallest of the three pitched developments — at East Rich Street, catty-corner to the Greyhound station, and named the Estrella — would include a ground-floor market, a four-floor garage, 188 housing units, and a restaurant on the roof. Four building demolitions would be necessary to make way for the Estrella, according to the application.
In total, the six proposals would bring at least 630 housing units to downtown. The proposal from Pizzuti for the project at Oak and Ninth streets does not detail the number of units it would create.
It comes as city leaders push for policies that favor a higher-density Columbus, including through a zoning code overhaul. Both the central Ohio region and the city itself are on track for substantial population growth by a million or more residents in less than three decades.
That growth has, thus far, moved quicker than the housing needed to sustain it: a housing needs assessment survey by the Building Industry Association of Central Ohio, released in late 2022, concluded the city would need to nearly double its average number of housing permits to meet projected needs.