A Gator ride along the river with Guy Worley at new Scioto Greenways

Mary Yost

That's what Guy Worley, CEO & president of the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation and Capitol South Urban Redevelopment Corporation, wants to see happen with the official opening today of the $36 million Scioto Greenways.

As fencing came down and Worley conducted his final hard-hat tour Monday afternoon in an open Gator utility vehicle, that hope was already being realized. A couple on bikes passed by, a man walked his dog and another rested on new concrete seating overlooking the now-healthy, slow-flowing river. He called out his appreciation to Worley for a job well-done.

As work wrapped up in recent weeks, Worley has been proudly showing off the mile-long stretch on both banks of the Scioto River Downtown. The Greenways features 35 acres of reclaimed and replanted green space, lush with new sod, 75,000 plants and shrubs and 800 trees. The plants are complemented by plenty of paved bike and walk paths and park benches perfect for enjoying the new scenery just below the Scioto Mile. Kayaks and canoes are nearby for those who want to experience views from the river that has been returned to its natural course.

With the two-year Greenways project now complete and being handed over to the city today, Worley turns his attention to development for which the reclaimed riverfront is expected to be a catalyst. Construction of the new Veterans Memorial on W. Broad Street on the west bank of the river is next on the list.

Planners also envision new underground parking behind COSI, topped by parkland in place of the surface lots now in the space. And rising up just west of the COSI underground garage and parkland in the vision Worley is working to realize-acres of mid-rise mixed-use space featuring retail, residential and office applications.

In an interview with Columbus CEO earlier this year on the topic of Downtown development, Wolfe predicted, "We're going to have a great Downtown due to a lot of reasons. The mayor, city council, county commissioners, with the Scioto River, Scioto Greenway project, it's going to be very pretty, so those amenities are starting to come into fruition."

Grand-opening festivities begin at 3:30 p.m. with live music, kayak and canoe rides along with exhibitions by the Ohio State Crew Club, paddle boarding and paddle board yoga by Columbus Kayak and Seven Studios. Festivities conclude with fireworks at 6:30 p.m.