Interview by Derek Grosso
There’s no denying that Downtown Columbus has undergone a rebirth in recent years. With nearly a dozen major projects completed in 2017 and more than 30 additional projects currently under construction or near completion – including the $74 million Michael B. Coleman Governmental Center opening this week – overall downtown investments total a whopping $1.3 billion, according to the State of Downtown Columbus 2017 mid-year report. The iconic LeVeque Tower has been re-imagined to include residences, a modern French brasserie and bar, and the Hotel LeVeque. Millennial Tower (which will rise 27 stories) has recently been approved by the Downtown Commission. Dining options have also increased, with recent additions like Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, Cosecha Cocina, Fox in the Snow (German Village), and Juniper rooftop lounge joining the local restaurant scene. And there’s plenty more to come!
With all of the buzz surrounding our downtown, we asked a group of Downtown Columbus leaders to answer three questions: “Which project are you most excited to see coming to downtown Columbus in the next 1-2 years?,” “Where do you see (or, where would you like to see) downtown Columbus growing over the next 10-20 years?,” and “What are 3 things that downtown Columbus needs right now?”
Name: Kacey Brankamp
Organization and Job Title: Program Director, Downtown CPass at Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District
Which project are you most excited to see coming to downtown Columbus in the next 1-2 years?
I’m most excited to roll out the Downtown CPass program in June this year. This brand-new program pays for unlimited access to COTA for 45,000 eligible downtown workers so they can ride at no cost to them. Downtown property owners took an innovative and internationally-lauded step to encourage workers to leave their car at home and try other commuting options.
Where do you see (or, where would you like to see) downtown Columbus growing over the next 10-20 years?
We’re on the cusp of major changes in how people get from place to place. I hope that mass transit is a major component of moving people around. And, while Columbus is not known as a transit-oriented city today, I hope we will become recognized for taking action to become a city focused on equitable transportation options for our entire community.
What are 3 things that downtown Columbus needs right now?
A supportive business environment for independent retail.
A thoughtful, collaborative and meaningful response addressing issues for people experiencing homelessness.
Fewer downtown workers driving alone every day; more companies embracing commuting choices and supporting employees in trying non-single occupancy vehicle options.
Read what other Downtown Columbus leaders had to say:
• Bob Bickis, Realtor at Smart Move Realtors and Catalyst at LiveDowntownColumb.US / WorkDowntownColumb.US / PlayDowntownColumb.US
• David Cofer, Executive Director at PACT (Partners Achieving Community Transformation)
• Jennifer Davis, Senior Marketing & Communications Manager at Greater Columbus Convention Center
• J. Averi Frost, Executive Director at Central Ohio African American Chamber of Commerce
• Branden Givand, Owner at Flying Gent Men’s Shop
• Brett Kaufman, CEO at Kaufman Development
• Jeff Lafever, Co-Founder/Tour Coordinator at Columbus City Adventures
• Bob Leighty, Executive Director at Parsons Area Merchants Association
• Amy Schmittauer Landino, President at Downtown Residents’ Association of Columbus
• Trent Smith, Executive Director at Franklinton Board of Trade
• Amy Taylor, Chief Operating Officer at Columbus Downtown Development Corporation/Capitol South
• Shiloh Todorov, Executive Director at German Village Society