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: David A. Cofer, Jr.
Organization and Job Title: Executive Director at PACT (Partners Achieving Community Transformation)
Which project are you most excited to see coming to downtown Columbus in the next 1-2 years?
I’m excited for the development activity planned for the area in and around the Columbus State Community College main campus, anchored by a new facility for its highly-ranked culinary program. As the immediate neighbor to the east, the investments made near the CSCC campus should be catalytic to further development east of I-71 particularly, the Near East Side.
Where do you see (or, where would you like to see) downtown Columbus growing over the next 10-20 years?
Given the planned population growth that we are expected to experience between now and 2050, I could see downtown Columbus, not unlike other parts of Columbus, becoming more walkable for those choosing to live and work downtown. A positioning of resources and assets such that those choosing to live and work downtown will find little to no reason to own a car as everything they may want to access will be accessible by foot and/or public transportation.
What are 3 things that downtown Columbus needs right now?
I believe that Downtown’s current needs are in many ways, areas of opportunity for the neighborhoods and communities adjacent to downtown. One area that Downtown could benefit from is more affordable workforce housing. There are many downtown housing units in development and/or recently completed. Few, if any would be considered affordable workforce housing. As such, this represents an opportunity for those of us in neighboring communities. The Near East Side for example serves as a wonderful alternative to living downtown given our close proximity and diversity of housing stock and pricing. Additionally, I believe downtown could benefit from improved access to the daily essentials. Not unlike many of our urban core neighborhoods, access to groceries and fresh foods is limited. If you have a car, it’s not that big a problem as you can drive to areas outside of downtown. However, if you find yourself without a car, it can be challenging.
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
• Kacey Brankamp, Program Director, Downtown CPass at Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District
• 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