New buildings opening Downtown face critical questions about the future.

Downtown Columbus has experienced a real estate boom, which has been hard to ignore given ongoing construction.

In February, a report by Capital Crossroads and the Discovery Special Improvement Districts noted that the Downtown area was expected to reach 10,000 residents this year and 14,000 by the end of 2022. Those numbers, though, came out before COVID-19 shuttered many Downtown office buildings. Only the future will reveal what the shutdown and its economic impact will be, according to one local expert.

Cleve Ricksecker, who retired May 31 as executive director of Capital Crossroads and the Discovery SIDS, acknowledges that patterns predicted during nonpandemic times, may not necessarily hold true for the future of Downtown housing this year.

“From what I have heard, even seasoned economists do not know what is going to happen,” he says. “We really have no idea what COVID-19 is going to do the housing market.”

The Downtown district is officially bordered by I-670 to the north, I-71 to the east, I-70 to the south, and the railroad track near COSI to the west. However, Ricksecker says the Downtown region also includes the Short North, Victorian Village, the Brewery District, German Village and Merion Village, all areas that have had a mature housing market for nearly two decades.

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Although it may seem there are more new Downtown residential options than interested tenants, Ricksecker says this so far has not been a case of supply outweighing the demand because “Columbus is a growing region.” He explains that the city has a large millennial population and the zip codes with the fastest growing population of this demographic are Downtown or in Downtown-adjacent neighborhoods.

Ricksecker says that a primary catalyst for central Downtown development was a decision by former Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman in 2002. The city started to offer residential property tax abatements, which removed often prohibitive costs for developers interested in Downtown projects.

There are several Downtown areas to watch, including Franklinton, which is developing at a faster rate than the Short North did two decades ago, due in part to large investments by Casto, Kaufman Development and Nationwide Realty Investors.

The Parsons Avenue corridor near Nationwide Children’s Hospital is similar to the Short North, in that it is slowly developing storefront-by-storefront. There are new restaurants, a brewery, and in nearby Olde Towne East, the Yardley, a newly renovated building featuring modern apartments.

Ricksecker says the King-Lincoln District and Olde Towne East have been seeing gradual residential development, and the rate of commercial development has more recently increased. But this is all precoronavirus.

The most positive change will occur Downtown and in its surrounding neighborhoods in the next decade, Ricksecker predicts. “These are not neighborhoods that force you to drive for every activity outside of your house,” he says. When cultural and sporting events resume, restaurants and bars reopen, and office buildings again start humming—Downtown living may quickly regain its momentum.

“People are looking for the full package in these neighborhoods,” he says. Walkability is a huge factor for those considering a Downtown relocation. In fact, a growing Downtown population can lead to less car use and ultimately positive environmental changes as people realize they can share one car within a household or live entirely without a car.

“Not everyone is moving to the suburbs and not everyone is moving to the city,” says Ricksecker, “but a certain percentage of people will always prefer a walkable lifestyle.”

Below are four newly opened Downtown area luxury apartment complexes and the amenities they have.

Hubbard Park Place, 797 N. Wall St.

This modern, new building, at the intersection of Hubbard and Park streets in the Short North, finally opened last summer. Owned and operated by the Wood Companies, residents can choose anything from a studio to a two-bedroom unit in the building. Rent prices range from $1,650 to $2,300. Amenities include a fitness center, garage parking (for an additional monthly fee) and a rooftop pool and hot tub.

Each unit has state-of-the-art appliances and finishes, including 7-foot windows, a counter depth French door refrigerator, hardwood floors and a five-burner Italian gas range.

For more information, visit woodcompanies.com.

The Nicholas, 12 W. Gay St.

Located at the intersection of Gay and High streets, this central Downtown residential building is owned by Edwards Communities and managed by Drucker + Falk. Regional property manager Marla Spencer says the Nicholas offers a unique culture and vibrant energy in the Downtown area. The Ohio Statehouse is less than two blocks away.

Once Downtown businesses reopen, “you can stroll outside your front door to enjoy urban shopping, dining and the city’s most significant entertainment venues,” she says.

Floor plans range from studios to three-bedrooms units, with rent beginning at $1,223 and going to $2,356 for a two-bedroom unit. (Call a leasing agent at The Nicholas to inquire about three-bedroom pricing.)

Amenities include a business center; a yoga and fitness studio with digital programming that’s open 24 hours a day; and a spacious rooftop pool with grilling, dining and various lounge areas. There is also a paw spa for residents to use for their pets.

Once restaurants reopen, the nearby Veritas and the Citizens Trust cocktail lounge can be accessed directly across Gay Street—and via an underground tunnel—from The Nicholas.

Spencer adds that leasing agents are practicing social distancing by offering virtual tours to potential residents. For more information, visit bethenicholas.com.

Industry Columbus, 230 E. Long St.

At the time of publication, Industry was expected to open by late May, says property manager Justan Dazey.

Available units in this new building include studios and one- or two-bedroom units, as well as several street-level, two-story townhouses. Prices range from $1,145 to $3,725.

Amenities include a rooftop pool and hot tub, as well as a 24-hour fitness center, a dog spa and a rooftop dog park. Two floors of open coworking space are available for residents to use. With appropriate social distancing, Dazey expected the coworking space to be a popular feature for Downtown because so many people are working remotely due to the pandemic. Electric vehicle charging stations are also available for residential use.

At press time, Dazey explained that all tours have been virtual to date. The Industry offers a virtual reality tour of the property and specific units upon request.

For more information, visit industry-columbus.com.

Library Park, 383 Oak St.

Social distancing is on the minds of those at the Pizzutti Companies, which in May was scheduled to open the first phase of Library Park, a residential complex located next to the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s main campus. The multiphase, multibuilding project at press time had developed a no-contact move-in policy for new residents, explains Laurie Marquart, marketing communications manager for the Pizzuti Companies, which owns and manages the properties.

Phase one of Library Park includes the redevelopment of 70 studio and one-bedroom apartments, with amenities including outdoor courtyards with café seating and an on-site bike repair room.

Phase two—which will include a newly constructed, five-story residential building with 80 studio, one- and two-bedroom units, as well as a parking garage—is expected to be ready for move-ins in early October. Opening with phase two, are amenities including a rooftop clubroom, built-in rooftop grilling stations, an outdoor terrace overlooking Topiary Park, a dog spa and a European-inspired outdoor plaza with café seating.

“Library Park is a place where historic apartment homes are restored and new homes are created in the spirit of honoring the neighborhood’s past and promise,” says Marquart.

Rent prices range from $995 to $2,135. Real-time virtual tours are available during the COVID-19 health crisis, and Library Park developers appeared to quickly pivot, diagramming correct social distancing even in its website images.

Marquart says the leasing staff has videos and photos available to share with prospective residents. Library Park also offers a Preferred Employer Program, offering discounts and perks to employees of Columbus City Schools, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Ohio State University, Chase and several others. All applications and lease signings will be completed online.

For more information, visit librarypark.com.