The spot once heralded as the best shopping between New York City and Chicago now serves a new purpose. Columbus officials have replaced the demolished City Center with a 9-acre park offering a variety of entertainment options. Downtown planners are hoping Columbus Commons will bustle with Downtown residents, workers and families, said Amy Taylor, chief officer of operations for Capital South, the group leading the revitalization. "I envision Downtown being a destination for the entire community," she said.
City planners opted for a "green" demolition of City Center and diverted more than 80-percent of the debris from the landfill. Almost 90 million pounds of materials were preserved to be used in other ways. Concrete from the building was crushed and used as aggregate for road bases. Steel taken from the structure was sold as scrap metal.
To create the new park, developers brought in 60,000 cubic yards of soil. Professionals from Franklin Park Conservatory designed the park's gardens to be viewed from street level and from the windows of nearby office buildings. Conservatory staff and volunteers have planted more than 22,000 plants in the space, which opened Memorial Day weekend.
On Wednesdays, the park is full of food, art and vegetables. Visitors can buy food from area food trucks, view art by Ohio artists and shop at a farmer's market sponsored by the Harmony Project. On Thursdays, the Downtown Kickball League plays, and adults can play four square, tug of war and other recess-type games.
The Columbus-based chain Burgers, Dogs & Fries is operating a food stand with open-air dining in the park May through October.
The carousel was hand-carved in Mansfield and features murals of the Ohio Statehouse, COSI and Franklin Park Conservatory.
An outdoor reading room sponsored by Columbus Metropolitan Library includes Wi-Fi and a spot to take or leave books.
Visit the park online at ColumbusCommons.org.