Shared from the 8/17/2019 The Columbus Dispatch eEdition

New Peninsula project emerges


This rendering, with the back of COSI at the far left, shows the new hotels and retail and office buildings envisioned for the Scioto Peninsula development. [COLUMBUS DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT CORP.]


The first hotel in the development would include a rooftop restaurant and a retail building. [ROCKBRIDGE CAPITAL]

More than a year after a plan collapsed to further 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 nine acres west of COSI Columbus, the first step in developing the entire 26-acre site.

Instead of the initial plan of one developer overseeing 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 Group, also of Columbus, will build an office building; and the Indianapolis firm Flaherty & Collins 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. The project is to 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. “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, a rooftop restaurant and a smaller retail building built by Rockbridge.

• Two apartment buildings — 11 and six stories — featuring 350 apartments built by Flaherty & Collins.

• A 1,400-space parking garage, either five or six stories tall, built by the Columbus Downtown Development Corp.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring on the buildings and be finished by June 2022.

Two other buildings are to be started after the first five:

• An 11-story apartment building containing 200 apartments built by Flaherty & Collins.

• A five-story, less-expensive hotel containing 120 to 150 rooms built by Rockbridge.

The city and the CDDC plan to sell individual parcels to developers . Prices have not been revealed. The buildings also would receive benefits offered to all new Downtown buildings: 100% tax breaks on property improvements for 15 years.

Ultimately, the CDDC envisions up to 2 million square feet of offices, 1,800 residences, 200,000 square feet of retail space and 400 hotel rooms on the Scioto Peninsula development.

The general scope of the plan is similar to the one the city laid out with Indianapolis developer Buckingham Cos., which backed out of the project in the spring of 2018 after failing to secure CoverMyMeds as an anchor office tenant. At that point, the city requested additional proposals.

The new vision includes more than twice the 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, at 240,000 square feet, would be the largest “speculative” (without tenants in advance) office building that 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 ... 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,” White said.

The 550 apartments would include some with reduced rents: 10% would be set aside for those making no more than 100% of the area’s median income, and 10% would be reserved for those making less than 80% of that income. Franklin County’s median household income is $56,319 a year, according to the most recent census figures.

Otherwise, monthly rent is expected to range from about $1,000 to $5,000, said David Flaherty, CEO of Flaherty & Collins.

The company, which specializes in urban apartments in dense mixed-use neighborhoods, has been eager to get into the Columbus market after tackling projects in the Cincinnati and Cleveland areas, Flaherty said.

This is the second major Columbus project announced this summer for Rockbridge, following its role as the lead developer in a hotel/office/apartment project on the North Market parking lot.

“What’s been happening at the Scioto Peninsula with the city and the CDDC is just really incredible,” Merkel said. “I didn’t really appreciate it until we got the opportunity to focus on these first six acres across from COSI. The more we spent time on it, the more excited we got.” @JimWeiker

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