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Downtown Columbus strategic plan seeks to add 40,000 new residents by 2040

A COTA bus drives down 3rd Street in downtown Columbus.
Ryan Hitchcock
A COTA bus drives down 3rd Street in downtown Columbus.

A new 10-year downtown strategic plan unveiled Tuesday at the Columbus Downtown Commission would include thousands more residents and workers to the area, as well as grow small diverse businesses.

Chair of the board of the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation, former Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman said more is better. He said the vision to attract 120,000 downtown workers and thousands more residents came from a survey of a diverse group of people.

"The goal is that we will increase downtown as a neighborhood for residents of 40,000 new residents by the year 2040. 40,000 by 2040,” Coleman said. “There's a lot to do to get there."

City leaders will need to pass policies that will encourage business development to make the new plan work, Coleman said.

"Master leasing options, tax abatements for retail, flexible lease term for downtown retail in order to add storefronts, service and neighborhood retailers and remove barriers for small, minority and women-owned businesses,” Coleman said.

Taller residential buildings that include a wide range of incomes will help increase downtown living, the former mayor said.

"More inclusiveness, more equitable and vibrant downtown, more reimagining mobility, more places to go, more affordable housing,” he said.

Coleman added that some downtown streets can become more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.

“Broad Street is the broadest street in America, and going through the heart of downtown, the speed will sometimes exceed 60 miles an hour,” Coleman said. “And pedestrians ducking dodge, walking on sidewalks, and trying to cross the street.”

Strategies also include investing in murals and window designs, especially those that feature local artists.

Columbus City Council is scheduled to take up the plan Monday.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.