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Urban design: Columbus, Ohio—Indy’s peer city—has thrown down the gauntlet

June 23rd, 2021

Article originally published in IBJ by Tom Gallagher

A recent visit to Columbus, Ohio, validated what I’ve been speculating—that Columbus has vaulted past us in terms of downtown vitality and refinement.

Though I have lived in Indy for about half my life, I grew up in Columbus and I’ve seen the changes in both cities, particularly as they matured over the last 30 years.

I used to say that Indy had a stronger downtown and that Columbus had many robust historic urban neighborhoods; together they would make one great city. Now, in my observation, Columbus has made up the gap in its downtown while making its neighborhoods even stronger.

A few other projects stand out: the Arena District and South Campus Gateway (just Gateway today), both of which are significant catalysts for their neighborhoods. Likely more serendipity than strategy, they also touched off a chain reaction throughout the two-mile corridor between them, bringing a varied mix of housing types in a wide range of attainability levels, improved walkability and public realm and renewed civic amenities like a new public library that anchors a prime “main street” location.

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