By Jim Weiker
The Columbus Dispatch
More than a year after a plan collapsed to develop the Scioto Peninsula, a new team has been chosen to turn the blank patch of Downtown into a dense urban neighborhood of offices, apartments, hotels and restaurants.
The city announced Friday that three developers will build six buildings on 9 acres west of COSI Columbus, the first step in developing the entire 26-acre site.
Instead of the initial plan of having one developer oversee the entire project, the Columbus Downtown Development Corp. chose three developers for different pieces of the puzzle: Rockbridge Capital of Columbus will build two hotels; Daimler, also of Columbus, will build an office building; and the Indianapolis firm Flaherty & Collins Properties will build three apartment buildings.
“Each developer is best in class with a proven track record of success,” said CDDC President Guy Worley.
The three plan to create a $250 million, six-block grid, with streets enlivened by restaurants and bars, which will serve as the core of the rest of the Scioto Peninsula development.
“This is a long-term investment in creating a new neighborhood in Columbus,” said Jim Merkel, CEO of Rockbridge Capital. “We’re really excited about the potential this has for the city. It’s super rare to have 20 acres in the core of the downtown in a market as vibrant as Columbus.”
Plans call for five initial buildings:
- An eight-story, 240,000-square-foot office building by Daimler.
- An eight-story hotel featuring 180 to 200 rooms built by Rockbridge.
- Two apartment buildings — 11 and six stories — featuring 350 apartments built by Flaherty & Collins.
- A 1,400-space parking garage built by the Columbus Downtown Development Corp.
- Construction is expected to begin next year on the buildings and be finished by June 2022.
- Two other buildings are planned for later:
- An 11-story apartment building containing 200 apartments built by Flaherty & Collins.
- A five-story hotel containing 120 to 150 rooms built by Rockbridge Capital.
The city and the CDDC will sell individual parcels to developers for the buildings. Prices have not been revealed.
The general scope of the plan is similar to the one the city laid out with Indianapolis developer Buckingham Companies, which backed out of the project in the spring of 2018 after failing to secure CoverMyMeds as an anchor office tenant.
The new vision, however, includes one major change: more than twice the amount of office space.
“The primary motivation for us is offices,” said Steve Schoeny, director of development for Columbus. “That’s what drives our bottom line, that’s how we make our money and where we give our residents an opportunity to succeed.”
The first office building, of 240,000 square feet, would be the largest “speculative” (without tenants in advance) office building Daimler has built, but company President Bob White Jr. said he is optimistic about the neighborhood.
“This site affords us the opportunity to start with a clean slate, with 30,000-square-foot floor plates and proximity to all the natural amenities that exist along the riverfront and in immediate proximity of a vibrant hotel and 550 residences and a parking structure — all these things speak to how office buildings are successful these days.”