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: Bob Leighty
Organization and Job Title: Executive Director at Parsons Area Merchants Association
Which projects are you most excited to see coming to downtown Columbus in the next 1-2 years?
Millennial Tower… 27 stories, cool design and materials, nice mixed use, good anchor for developing the River South District. Columbus State Community College’s new home for their culinary and hospitality program, an important program much deserving of an expansion, a new signature building for Columbus State and the Discovery District, and a new creative playground for local food entrepreneurs. CCAD’s continued growth, especially with their film and animation programs. Franklin University’s continued growth. Scioto Mile … I’m a tree guy. The trees that anchor the new parkland on the riverfront are getting bigger and greener each year! That public parkland is only going to get better over time.
Where would you like to see downtown Columbus grow over the next 10-20 years?
More mixed-use infill, pedestrian-friendly buildings, and parks. Also more diverse, affordable housing options. And more local businesses, especially local retail. And, a significant OSU continuing education and urban design presence downtown.
What are 3 things that downtown Columbus needs right now?
1. Economic and cultural diversity
3. Local businesses
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
• 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
• 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