Downtowns again booming in Ohio's big cities

Ohio's three largest cities are enjoying downtown booms after years of effort and a combined investment of about $10 billion — booms that officials say could help boost Ohio's overall economic development.
Associated Press
Feb 4, 2013

Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati have all added residents, jobs, economic impact and vibrancy in what Edward Hill, dean of Cleveland State University's Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, calls "an overnight sensation 30 years in the making."

Ohio's "three Cs" have moved forward with major projects, many of them initiated with public money. That development has expanded to include parks, arenas and stadiums, museums, universities, hotels and casinos, The Columbus Dispatch reported Monday.

The rebirth of the three cities could help change the image of a state that has been linked to job losses and fading industries — hopefully spurring Ohio's economic development and reversing the so-called brain drain, according to development and jobs officials.

"Instead of losing these young professionals to Chicago and the West Coast and East Coast, they'll stay here if we have something vibrant going on," said Mark Patton, managing director of JobsOhio.

He said that is part of long-term planning that includes a commitment to creating jobs in financial services, information technology, health care and marketing.

Many of the "knowledge workers" are college-educated, more-upscale workers looking for a downtown vibrancy, while more empty nesters also want to live in downtowns filled with nearby amenities, Patton said.

Various projects helped trigger the cities' booms.

In Cleveland, a bus-rapid transit system ignited development along the important downtown artery of Euclid Avenue that was once known as Millionaire's Row, and Columbus was helped by development of an Arena District on the blighted site of an old prison. Cincinnati's rebirth started with Fountain Square and redevelopment efforts in the historic Over-the Rhine District.

"We've noticed it and are thrilled," Pat Barker, interim director of TourismOhio, said. "And, what's even more amazing is so much of it — the construction projects and plans — was done during the recession."

The goal with major projects has been to create hubs that lead to other connected development.

"You have to create not just a building, but an environment," Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman said.

Vacancy rates in downtown apartments in all three cities have dropped, and the number of new projects continues to grow. Increased numbers of downtown residents spur the opening of scores of restaurants and shops and the construction of more apartments and condominiums.

Downtown development also has helped the cities attract more regional and national conventions and meetings.

"These meeting planners know that just because they hold a meeting someplace doesn't mean people will come," Barker said. "They're looking for cities that have vibrant things to do at night, places people can walk to, and all three cities have this now, and it's a huge benefit."



looking around

Abandoning our downtown districts was always a bad idea. You don't find great entertainment venues, great restaurants, bars and interesting shops in suburban strip malls. There is a lot to be said for downtown entertainment districts that have a multitude of options all within walking distance from each other. The special events also create a desirable atmosphere that people enjoy. A city just isn't a city without a downtown. When developed right they are also a desirable location to live for people who enjoy all that it brings.


10 Billion Dollars???!!!!! What a joke!

The Bizness

Urban Centers are extremely important. A well designed city with an engaging central business district can lead to exchanging of ideas, a healthy lifestyle, and community.

I hope that downtown Sandusky keeps its come back going strong.

looking around

You are so right, it's not just large city's. Making a quaint little towns downtown district a focus point is imperative to the vibrancy expected to create a destination. Many small and mid size towns across America are leading this transformation in a first class way. I see ideas being shared by those planing these efforts in my visits to many of these from appearance to events planning and marketing. Sandusky is one of those unpolished gems that has moved forward in bringing back the luster.


Exactly....a small themed area with quaint shops and cobbled streets for pedestrian traffic only. Parking along the outside edges. Nice lights along the inside areas. It would be so nice with the parks to walk through as well.


Willing to bet the recent addition of Casino's had something to do with this success.


The only thing booming in Sandusky, Ohio is the sounds from gun fire.


Dont forget entitlements


Artificially puffing up major cities with taxpayer funds while smaller municipalities and communities get the fiscal crumbs?

Just more evidence of the inequality of political cronyism.

The Big Dog's back

Thanks President Obama! :)


Pres. BHO? LMAO!!!

More like: "Thank you," Federal Reserve and foreign buyers of Treasuries.


I think Big Dog is obsessed with Obama. Thats all this guys can talk about. Sad. Andddd if you are going to thank any political leader for success in Ohio, thank Kasich. You know, the Republican who turned it all around Big Dog. Oh, comes the lame response thats not only comical but hypocritical........................

The Big Dog's back

Way to go President O.


Trolling Brutus?????

The Big Dog's back

Hey, you guys blame everything bad on the President, so why not credit him with the good?


Where's your miraculous Pres. BHO gettin' the $?

BTW: Some of the funding also comes from "evil" rich people buying municipal bonds in order to lower their tax rates and get tax-free income.

Munis trap current and future generations with interest payments. As a nation we've been busy mortgaging our future.


But he ain't done nothing good yet LOL !!!!

The Big Dog's back

Yeah, yeah yeah.




That's ok, BD, you go right ahead. You have had to suffer the slings and arrows of listening to these guys whine since the election. I have wanted to offer them chesse and crackers a lot of times to go with it. LOL. I guess when he does something right they just can't accept it. Ok, so Kasich had a little to do with it to, but mostly its Obama. So you go ahead and gloat. It's your turn. LOL

The Big Dog's back

Thanks wired.

T. A. Schwanger

Here's the link for Cincinnati's development. Notice the private development is not directly on the waterfront. The waterfront is preserved for public recreation. It's called Smart Growth.

Small cities like Sandusky should learn from the 21st century thinking of our bigger cities.


Cinci? Yea, maybe Sandusky should follow their example and saddle their taxpayers with massive public debt for two stadiums?

Forced 'em to sell a hospital and it's only getting worse.

T. A. Schwanger


Don't loose my point. My concern is, with some of the City Commissioners now on board, I'm worried existing public waterfront areas will give way to private development benefiting the few. Cincinnati's waterfront development is an example of development done right. I'm not at all advocating spending millions in local dollars.


How much more of the waterfront do you suggest we use for public access? There is a LOT of it now that is public access? How much MORE do you see as being used in this city as public access?

And what developer do you expect to take over? Hoty? The old city building? Do you know that for a fact?

That is where you want your new park to be? Tell me how much money your new park will make for the city of Sandusky in funds?

I don't want Condos from Hoty either, so that wouldn't be a viable option. That would be something I think the people of Sandusky should vote on, frankly.

T. A. Schwanger


Who said anything about a new park? How about bringing existing parks into the 21st century.

For two years, a group of citizens and former City Commissioners have been publicly advocating for the City to formulate a Master Plan for the Sandusky Bay Pavilion and the rest of Battery Park. While waiting, the facility continues to deteriorate.

No money you say. Well the Battery Park TIF generates yearly enough money to pay for a Master Plan. Past uses of Battery Park TIF dollars included paying for Christmas decorations placed in the windows of downtown businesses.

Three years ago, the City Commission approved creating public Plazas at the NW and SE corners of the Chesapeake Lofts development. Nothing has been done. No money you say. The Chesapeake Lofts TIF generates $575,000 per year for exclusive use in the Paper District TIF area for infrastructure inprovements including the mentioned plazas.

BW1's picture

"I'm worried existing public waterfront areas will give way to private development benefiting the few...."

When a collectivist says "the few," that's leftist code for "the productive."


@contango....its one stadium. Two teams play there. They are TRYING to sell a rehab hospital for the stadium cost and are still short of funds. They haven't sold it yet. Just a slight correction there. Sorry.


@ wiredmama222:

Two stadiums - one for Reds, one for Bengals.

Question: Why is public money being used to finance and benefit privately held entities?


Well I guess Wiredmama222 is human after all. She does make mistakes