Work is underway for a new downtown gathering space in the median of the 1200 block of Broadway.
It is kind of back to the future, said Columbus businessman Chris Woodruff, a downtown resident and property owner who has spearheaded the project.
“Back in the 1800s, the median was the gathering space for people,” Woodruff said Friday. “All we are doing is going back to our roots.”
The small park, which will cost more than $200,000 in private money to develop, became possible when one of the large Broadway oak trees had to be removed about mid-block.
Depending on the weather, the park should be completed by the end of next month, Woodruff said.
Woodruff, who is president of The Cotton Companies and has developed the space where River & Rail restaurant and Kilwin’s chocolate shop are located, began to eye possibilities for the space.
There will be lighting, seating and trees in the small space, about 70 feet long and 35 feet wide.
The trees are a critical component of the pocket park, said Uptown Columbus Inc. President Ross Horner.
“We lost a tree and that’s a big deal,” he said. “But we are replacing it with six trees. So, we have gained five trees and that’s a big deal, too.”
The first design was presented almost a year ago and it did not include the trees. Woodruff went back to the drawing board after some in the community expressed concerns. What resulted is a much better product, he said.
“Where we are today is immensely better than where we started,” Woodruff said. “And the only reason that happened is because we listened to the voices of this community.”
The small size of the park and its placement in a block that is being activated by new restaurants and two new hotels that are on the drawing board is fitting, Horner said.
“What I love about it is it is small in size, but the impact of it will be huge,” Horner said. “It’s in the right place.”
In addition to The Cotton Companies and Uptown Columbus Inc., Bruce Tile Company, Barnes/Gibson/Parnters, Alexander Electric, Trees Columbus, the city of Columbus, Columbus Water Works, Georgia Power Co., Cut Above and others have participated in the effort.