Downtown Development CEO to step down as Ginther wants more mixed-income development
Guy Worley, the longtime CEO and president of the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation, announced Monday he will be stepping down May 31 — hours before Columbus City Council appointed five new members Mayor Andrew Ginther recommended for the agency's 13-member board of directors.
The move by Worley apparently recognized a shift in the direction Ginther wants for the development corporation, the private, nonprofit group that has led public-private Downtown redevelopment projects, including the Scioto Mile and the John F. Wolfe Columbus Commons.
Ginther recruited the five new members because he wants to "realign" the development group as the city's Downtown recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, said Robin Davis, Ginther's spokeswoman. The mayor not only wants to attract jobs and help business thrive, she said, but also to focus on creating more affordable, mixed-income housing.
"We think CDDC is in a strong position to help lead and shape Downtown through an equity lens," Davis said.
Davis said that while the Downtown recovered from the Great Recession a decade ago, it didn’t do so equitably.
Downtown has seen a number of new apartment projects over the past 10 years, many of them focused on tenants with higher incomes.
Ginther and other current leaders in the public and private sectors felt the need to more aggressively and collaboratively pursue some directions that Worley resisted, sources told The Dispatch.
In the statement, Ginther credited Worley as crucial in the development of the Scioto Mile, Columbus Commons and the National Veterans Memorial and Museum.
“CDDC is in a strong position to help the city lead over the next decade and shape the future of Downtown through an equity lens,” he said.
In the same prepared statement, Worley said he was grateful that he has had the opportunity to have spent 14 years leading an organization that has made a lasting impact on the community.
"It’s only through a visionary Board of Directors, community leadership and strong public-private partnerships that we’ve been able to change the face of Downtown Columbus," Worley said.
A replacement for Worley has not been chosen.
The five appointed to the board are replacing members whose terms are expiring, and include these community heavy hitters:
- Alex Fischer, president and CEO of The Columbus Partnership, who replaces Melissa P. Ingwersen, president of Key Bank, central Ohio.
- Former Mayor Michael B. Coleman, a partner in the law firm IceMiller, who replaces lawyer Alex Shumate, a senior partner at Squire Patton Boggs, and who was the secretary of the CDDC board.
- Jeff Edwards, president, CEO & Chairman, Installed Building Products, replacing Michael G. Morris, the former chairman and CEO of American Electric Power, who was the CDDC board chairman.
- Christie Angel, president and CEO, YWCA Columbus, replacing Jordan Miller, former CEO and president of Fifth Third Bank.
- Sandy Doyle-Ahern, president of engineering firm EMH&T, replacing Nancy Kramer, global chief evangelist for IBM iX.
The city council also reappointed Bruce Soll, a counselor and adviser for L Brands; and Matt Scantland, co-founder and former CEO of CoverMyMeds, to the board.
Fischer said Ginther asked if he'd be willing to join the board and think about future priorities.
"You cannot take for granted a strong Downtown," Fischer said.
"There's a broader footprint, a series of strategic community planning issues facing the broader community," he said. "You're always looking at it through a lens of those who in the past haven't participated with the economic growth."
Angel, who had served in Coleman's administration, including deputy chief of staff, said that she wanted to be on the CDDC board for several reasons, including her time as a board member on the RiverSouth Authority, formed in 2003 to issue bonds for capital improvements for projects along the Scioto River Downtown, and because the YWCA is located Downtown.
"We have a $30-million asset sitting in Downtown," said Angel, referring to the cost of the renovation of the eight-story building on South 4th Street four years ago.
Worley began his time as executive director in 2007 when Coleman was mayor. Worley was his chief of staff.
"One of my signature goals as mayor was to revitalize and reinvent Downtown Columbus," Coleman said in the CDDC statement. "I knew we needed someone to lead CDDC who could not only understand that vision but who could also figure out how to put the building blocks in place to accomplish the goal, and that person was Guy Worley."
The CDDC is overseeing the development of the 26 acres just west of COSI on the Scioto Peninsula across from Downtown.
That project is expected to include up to 2 million square feet of offices, 1,800 residences, 200,000 square feet of retail space and 400 hotel rooms.
Developers already have started work on the first phase of what's been dubbed "The Peninsula," including two buildings of six and 11 stories, respectively, with 330 apartments. There also will be an eight-story, 240,000-square-foot office building, and eight-story, 200-room hotel, and two parking decks totaling 1,400 spaces.
The city has estimated that it will spend $63.2 million on the project, including $35.5 million for the parking garages, $17 million for roads and $10.7 million for utilities.
Several developers are now involved in the project. Indianapolis developer Buckingham Cos. was to be the developer but backed out of the project in 2018 after failing to nail down CoverMyMeds as an anchor office tenant.
Editor's note: Mayor Andrew Ginther's office initially said that Amy Taylor, CDDC's chief operating officer, was to serve as interim executive director, and that was previously included in this story. However, that is not the case, according to Lisa Hinson, of Hinson LTD Public Relations on behalf of the CDDC.