Friday, September 21, 2007


There is a lot of discussion regarding bringing retail and residential development to downtown Columbus but there is little mention about creating new cultural activity centers/attractions in the heart of the City. Cultural destinations not only help educate but they attract people and their money. Retail and residential projects will follow the trail of money.

As the country’s 15th most populated city, Columbus is severely lacking in unique cultural institutions/attractions that can attract tourists and regularly engage its resident population. Not counting the Clippers or Blue Jacket Stadiums since the Arena District is its own distinctive neighborhood and not truly downtown, Columbus is limited to:
Columbus Museum of Art
Wexner Center for the Arts
Riffe Gallery
Santa Maria
Central Ohio Fire Museum
Ohio, Palace and Southern Theatres
Franklin Park Conservatory (somewhat downtown)
Assorted historic buildings such as Kelton Museum, Thurber House, etc.
Many of these sites do not warrant repeat visits (ie Santa Maria, Central Ohio Fire Museum) and collectively may not even occupy a full weekend visit.

Since I am not a city planner for Columbus I do not know if they are actively recruiting cultural centers to locate in downtown or even proactively purchasing property to court future leads with. New centers do open (ie Newseum, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, etc) and we need to be prepared to be a serious contender in being their host city.

In saying that, I would really like to see a greater diversity of attraction offerings downtown. I think it would be great for the Motorcycle Hall of Fame to relocate from Pickerington to downtown Columbus. I think the museum could have a great urban downtown street presence with a unique architectural design and fun window displays. Even better is that they have approximately 20,000 visitors annually.

One thing that I am excited about is that Elevator's brewing operations will be moving to Fourth Street so brewery tours are a strong possibility. However, brewery tours alone won't fill the attraction void downtown.
So what do you think?


Walker Evans said...

The Wexner Center is not downtown.

And you left off the wonderful theaters we have... The Ohio Theater, Palace Theater and Southern Theater.

JP said...

Oh I didn't forget the theaters, just lumped them together on the same line. The Wexner is certainly not downtown- I threw the City a bone like with the Franklin Park Conservatory but didn't put brackets around it ;) Thanks for the comment.

chad said...

I think that it is fine to include the Wexner, it is not that far away and it can help to promote COTA, in this discussion. We do need more cultural centers. What about the Cultural Arts Center on Main St? It doesn't receive enough attention. I think mention of the State House could be included. The Columbus Metropolitan Library should get mention as well, if only they could develop programs that create movement from the street into the building like many new library construction is trying to do.

cmhindependent said...

I completely agree with you that the library is a true cultural destination and I cannot believe I left it off. Thanks for the recommendation!
One other place I would like to see move downtown is the hidden jewel, Ohio Craft Museum, currently located on W. 5th. This museum and education center coordinates a lot of activities including classes and lectures which brings people from all around. More people=greater street vibrancy.
We just need to make sure that when we talk about what should replace City Center we should not just focus on retail, residential and office but to ensure we include a cultural center that contributes to a well-rounded, multi-purpose development.