The demolition of the Ohio Penitentiary and land reuse were highly debated until Nationwide Realty Investors (NRI) began developing the arena and a district master plan in the late 1990s.
As early as 1985, the MI Schottenstein Co. had proposed converting the prison into residential units, offices and a festival market full of small shops and a central park. According to The Columbus Dispatch, that proposal appraised the land at $10 million, $12.3 million if all buildings were demolished but the prison wall remained.
Today, development in the mixed-use district is still going strong. Among the notable developments under way:
Columbia Gas of Ohio will occupy 200,000 square feet of its new 280,000-square-foot headquarters. The building sits on the corner of Nationwide Boulevard and Neil Avenue, facing Huntington Park to the east and Nationwide Arena to the west.
NRI's five-story, 120-unit luxury apartment building, Flats II, is scheduled for completion this fall. The building is the latest of NRI's residential developments, which include the 226-unit Flats on Vine apartments, the 252-unit Arena Crossing apartments, the 20-story Condominiums at North Bank Park and Burnham Square condominiums, which was the neighborhood's first for-sale residential development when it was built in 2006.
Notable early developments in the Arena District include:
230 West St.: Lifestyle Communities is headquartered in this 130,837-square-foot, seven-story building at the corner of West Street and Marconi Boulevard, designed by architect Lupton Rausch and built in 2007.
125 W. Nationwide Blvd.: This 75,000-square-foot, four-story building sits directly across from the arena, making its 17,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space an ideal location for tenants such as Rodizio Grill.
191 W. Nationwide Blvd.: This 134,000-square-foot, six-story building includes office space and 21,000 square feet of ground-level restaurant and retail space. Boston's Gourmet Pizza occupies the corner space of this building, which faces the Union Station Arch. Ted's Montana Grill occupies a space at the building's west end.
250 West St.: This 127,000-square-foot, seven-story building includes 15,000 square feet of ground-level retail/restaurant space. Tenants include law firm Ice Miller and Accenture.
277 W. Nationwide Blvd.: URS is the largest tenant in this 95,000-square-foot, five-story office building. Experience Columbus moved into a ground-level office in 2007.
325 John H. McConnell Blvd.: The 10,000-square-foot Arena District Athletic Club is located in the ground floor of this 165,000-square-foot, six-story building facing the Union Station Arch.