It appears there will be a new gathering space in the downtown Broadway median later this year.
The Uptown Facade Board on Monday approved plans for a new pocket park in the 1200 block of Broadway across from the Kilwin’s chocolate shop on the east side and the proposed new AC Hotel on the west side.
Uptown Columbus Inc., a downtown redevelopment organization, is working to develop the park with private donors. Though it will be on city property, there is no public money involved in the project. Cost of the project has not been finalized.
The park will include seating, lighting and artwork, said Barnes/Gibson/Partners architect Will Barnes, who presented the project to the Facade Board, which approved it unanimously. The project was originally presented to the Facade Board two months ago, but was modified to include six trees as part the design.
The park will include concrete seating. In size, the park is similar to another small space near the Synovus Centre at Bay Avenue and 11th Street.
It will be about 65 feet long by about 34 feet wide, Barnes said. That is scaled down from the original plans, he said.
Uptown Inc. President Ross Horner said it will be “an incredible amenity” to downtown.
“This clearly demonstrates that the 1200 block is changing and this helps to show what that change is,” Horner said.
In the last year, two new hotels have been announced for the 1200 block and two new restaurants have opened with others planned. There is also new retail, a beauty salon and office space in that block.
Columbus businessman Chris Woodruff, a downtown resident and property owner, including the 1200 block buildings that house Kilwin’s and River & Rail restaurant, was a critical player in advocating for a park for that area.
“I have seen pocket parks in other cities and I recognized there might be an opportunity in the 1200 block when the city arborist removed a decaying and dying tree,” Woodruff said.
The large oak was cut down last year, leaving a noticeable gap in the mid-1200 block median.
The next step is to apply for and receive city permits to begin the construction. Funds are still being secured for the project and a final cost has not been determined.
Gary Gullatte with Gullatte Landscape Architecture is also involved with the project.
The initial design did not include trees to replace the the oak that was removed, said Dorothy McDaniel, executive director of Trees Columbus Inc.
“I am pleased that the new design includes trees and measures to mitigate damage to the existing trees in that area,” McDaniel said.