Columbus Monthly publisher Ray Paprocki reflects on a changing Downtown Columbus

Dear former Mayor Coleman,

I presume you'll remember my open letter to you in the October 2001 issue of this magazine as clearly as when you won your first election a couple of years earlier. You know, the column in which I laid out the case for how to persuade my wife, Sherry, and me to move Downtown, which was a key part of your humble agenda for the city.

On the off chance you don't recall the details, I walked along High Street from the county courthouse to Goodale Avenue and back-noting the good, the bad and the ugly. My report was generous in praise of, for instance, the notable architecture (Southern Theatre, convention center, Greek Orthodox Church). But there was plenty to squawk about: parking lots, the soulless blot of a big box called City Center, parking lots, an overall lack of energy, parking lots.

I also gave you my personal punch list for the center city, which included recruiting a jazz club, promoting our attractions with compelling signage, replacing the eyesore on the corner of Broad and High and tearing down that soulless blot of a big box.

Every few years, I would retrace my steps, take note of the changes and send you, via this publication, my latest accounting. And, if I didn't say it at the time, I'll do so now: thanks for listening. Well, I'm guessing you paid attention since Downtown kept improving through the years, from 8 on the Square displacing the eyesore at Broad and High to an urban park wiping away that soulless blot.

Then Sherry and I decided to make the big move…to Naples, Florida, which is both physically and philosophically far removed from Columbus. A job opportunity took us to the growing region along the Everglades well known to Central Ohioans as an international glam spot of big money and exotic creatures (including the two-legged variety).

Then a few months ago we made one more big move…back to Columbus, thanks to another job opportunity.

After our return, we cast our sights Downtown again, pleasantly discovering far fewer parking lots. More importantly, we noticed a greater sense of vibrancy and energy-particularly involving the most significant improvement of all, the reconstructed Scioto River. On a warm Thanksgiving morning, we joined numerous folks either strolling or biking on ground that previously was under water for 100 years.

And, we did find a jazz club operating in the nearby Brewery District. OK, it's not located Downtown, but close enough.

So, Mr. Former Mayor, nearly 15 years after that first open letter, Sherry and I finally made the plunge and purchased a condo in Downtown Columbus.

You're welcome, by the way.

Ray Paprocki, Publisher