The University District in Columbus encompasses 13 diverse neighborhoods, all connected by their proximity to The Ohio State University (OSU). The mammoth institution is the city’s top employer with more than 28,000 employees. OSU joined with the city of Columbus to create Campus Partners in 1995 to lead the efforts to revitalize the neighborhoods around OSU’s main campus, improving the area for students, staff, and the community.
Campus Partners helped transform OSU’s main street, High Street, with a mixed-use development called South Campus Gateway. The $150 million project brought retail, offices, apartments, and parking to the neighborhood and is attracting more investment, businesses, and visitors.
Campus Partners also acts as a community developer by bringing a wide range of stakeholders together for planning and other projects. Neighborhood residents often rely on Campus Partners to act as intermediary between OSU and the neighborhoods. “We’re viewed as the honest broker between the anchor and the community,” says Campus Partners President Doug Aschenbach.
Campus Partners was a leader in the creation of the Weinland Park Collaborative (WPC). WPC serves the Weinland Park neighborhood, located in the southeast portion of the University District, by collaborating with dozens of community organizations and agencies to find solutions to the challenges the neighborhood faces with vacant housing, access to employment, safety, health, education, and more.
On June 17th of this year, Campus Partners unveiled their plan for the redevelopment of 15th & High that was first outlined in February 2015 when zoning was approved. The plan calls for an improved connection between the University and off-campus areas. Campus Partners spent the last several years working with the city and neighborhood to develop this vision and the key components include:a new public space,University Square, a walkable, pedestrian-focused environment, mixed-use buildings, a comprehensive parking strategy, improvements to the street infrastructure and streetscape enhancements and a re imagined Pearl Alley.”This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide connectivity between the university and the community,” said Keith Myers, Ohio State’s associate vice president for planning and real estate and chair of the Campus Partners Board.
The work being done by community residents, the WPC, and Campus Partners is setting the stage for true urban renewal in Weinland Park. By leveraging the leadership and resources of OSU and working with the community, Campus Partners is making real progress beyond the campus and into the community in new and exciting ways.