Columbus, Ohio officials are set to tear down their “City Center” mall — another example of failed indoor shopping in a U.S. downtown — and replace it with a park ringed by housing and retail. Noting the downtown “as we know it will change,” the Columbus Dispatch covered the park this past week:
This summer, nearly 20 years after City Center opened as the shining star of central Ohio’s retail universe, the obsolete and nearly abandoned mall will be demolished. It is to be replaced by an urban park and, within several years, a collection of buildings that will contain homes, offices, restaurants and shops. “In my opinion, City Center was built to fail,” said Mayor Michael B. Coleman. “But now, the potential and opportunity for this site to be the jewel of the city of Columbus is there.”
Coleman says the park is a critical component of the $280 million revitalization planned for the area known as RiverSouth. The city’s development manager for the project, Georgetown, Inc. of New York believes the new space lays the groundwork for future revitalization.
“In stepping back, we said, ‘Let’s turn the page,’¬†¬†”said Georgetown Vice Chairman Edgar Lampert. “Most importantly, we felt it was important to establish a framework for future development rather than specifying exactly what that development is. “In an urban setting, it’s important to establish your street grid and establish your public spaces.”
Other cities have noticed a “build it and they will come” effect of parks: Houston’s Discovery Green, Atlanta’s Olympic Park, Chicago’s Millennium Park and Detroit’s Campus Martius to name a few. Other cities, such as Charolotte and Dallas are planning new downtown parks to attract development and increase quality of life for downtowns that are increasingly a mix of retail, office and housing.
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