Downtown Columbus is called “home” now more than ever with residential construction on the rise.
More people moving into Downtown Columbus plan to be there for a while.
A mid-year report on the state of businesses, residential and commercial real estate, and investment in the heart of central Ohio shows a shift in the Downtown housing market from people renting apartments to buying condominiums.
More than half of the residential units that have been completed so far this year are owner-occupied, according to researchers at the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District. It's a reversal from the trend toward Downtown rentals that took hold almost a decade ago.
“It's just a sign of how far back in the rearview mirror the Great Recession is,” says Marc Conte, deputy director of research, planning and facilities for both Capital Crossroads and the Discovery Special Improvement District.
While the report shows that developers overwhelmingly plan to rent out proposed housing units and units they're currently building Downtown, Conte says he expects those plans to change if the sellers' market continues in central Ohio real estate.
Downtown units that have come online so far this year include The Citizens, in a former bank building at High and Gay streets; Parks Edge, at Spring Street and Neil Avenue in the Arena District; and 6th Street Mews, between Long and Gay streets in the Discovery District.
According to Capital Crossroads' mid-year report, Downtown residency climbed to 8,300 people by the end of June, an increase of 15 percent in five years and 68 percent in the past decade. Officials predict a Downtown residential population of 11,745 by 2020 and an addition of more than 2,800 units.
Office vacancies, meanwhile, edged upward to 11.4 percent in the second quarter of the year but stayed close to the vacancy rate of 2016. The greatest demand, Capital Crossroads says, is in “creative” space.
More than 84,000 people work Downtown, and the report shows most are in government, finance and insurance, or professional services.
There's one statistic, though, that Capital Crossroads would like to change. District officials say 83 percent of people drive to work Downtown by themselves, and just 5 percent take public transit.
The district's board of directors voted in August to move forward with an initiative that would provide free bus passes to as many as 43,000 people who work Downtown. Property owners already have agreed to pay half the cost of the passes through a special assessment based on their buildings' square footage. If grants and fundraising cover the other half, the free-pass program could begin in June 2018.