Business Outlook 2014

By Dennis Read
Photos by Ryan M.L. Young
Illustration by Yogesh Chaudhary

Growth was a common talking point when Columbus CEO discussed the coming year with local experts in a variety of fields. Central Ohio hospital systems are adding facilities and services. Developers are planning numerous new sites for retail shopping. The Downtown housing market is continuing to expand. Employment numbers are expected to make slow but steady growth. Area colleges are increasing opportunities for students to pursue degrees.

For our annual business feature, we interviewed a variety of Central Ohio professionals to get their thoughts on what 2014 holds for five key topics: employment, real estate, healthcare, retail shopping and education.

Outlook: Real Estate

Columbus developers predict Downtown residential construction will continue steadily throughout 2014. The Downtown apartment and condo market continues to be extremely strong.

“Rents are at an historic high,” says Ed Joseph, vice president of CB Richard Ellis. This indicates that demand is outstripping supply.

As Downtown revitalization continues, residents are returning to the central city. “Columbus has a decent boom going,” says Jung Kim, director of research at the Columbus Chamber of Commerce.

Increasing the number of people who live downtown has always been a top priority for the Columbus Downtown Development Corp., says Guy Worley, CEO and president of the CDDC and Capitol South Community Urban Redevelopment Corp.

“The public and private sectors joined together to build the two great amenities in the neighborhood—Columbus Commons and Scioto Mile. Since these parks were built, we’ve seen a private sector residential investment estimated at $200 million,” he says.

The investment continues to grow. Established apartment complexes are expanding. Lifestyle Communities is building Lifestyle Community Annex 2 on the site of the Trautman and Hub buildings, adding another hundred apartments to the Annex neighborhood. Neighborhood Launch will continue growing west and north, adding another 24 condo units, and Bishop’s Walk II will double its rental apartment units to reach a total of 258. Both are Edwards Company projects.

Highpoint on Columbus Commons, the six-story apartment complex comprising 301 units built by Carter of Atlanta, will be ready for full occupancy by mid-March. Connor McNally, Carter’s chief development officer, says that a restaurant will move in on the ground floor sometime in 2014. Other restaurants and shops, yet to be named, will fill the rest of the 21,000 square feet. While Carter has nothing else currently planned for downtown Columbus, McNally says the developer is “looking for other opportunities.”

Construction will begin this year for 250 High, a 12-story, mixed-use, high-rise by Kaufman Development, with completion anticipated in April 2015. The building, located between Rich and Main streets, will have 120 apartments on its upper six floors and office and retail space on its lower six floors.

The building is already attracting tenants. The digital marketing agency, Resource, will occupy 60,000 square feet in 250 High. Brett Kaufman, founder and CEO of Kaufman Development, says that preleasing of apartments will start in late spring /early summer.

Kaufman credits public-private partnerships for a renewed downtown. Mayor Michael Coleman says those partnerships will move forward in the coming year. “We are breaking ground on the Scioto Greenways and moving forward on the Scioto Peninsula project that includes the new zoo location and Veterans Memorial,” says Mayor Coleman.

Kim says that these actions provide “a foundation for future activity and for downtown to grow.”

Coleman is “incredibly supportive,” Kaufman says. “I give him a tremendous amount of credit.”

The continuing construction of downtown residences reflects the growing vitality of the area. “Downtown,” Edwards says, “is on the verge of getting really better.”

Taylor says that the steady growth of the metropolitan area, coupled with job growth, is creating a momentum for Downtown. More people, especially young professionals and empty nesters, are choosing to live there, adding greater numbers each month to its current population of 6,200.

“We think Downtown Columbus housing is still underserved,” Kaufman says.

Joseph adds, “There’s not so much construction that it’s going to overbuild.”

Edwards, who has developed Neighborhood Launch at a measured steady rate, notes, however, that gradually increasing mortgage interest rates “will temper the growth.”