Saturday, September 18, 2010

And the Survey Says…

Ok let’s see a show of hands. How many of us have taken time to read the results of the City Resident Survey completed last November? It’s not always easy to find time for this type of thing but it’s good reading. I’ll post a link to the survey at the end. This survey was conducted by city government to better gauge the thoughts of the typical Columbus resident. There were some interesting results in regards to the downtown.

Under the heading of Economic Development and Land Use 79% of respondents felt there are too few retail shops in Columbus. That may not be a specific statement about downtown but that is where you would most often find that type of business.

The following is a statement taken from the survey. “About eight in ten respondents supported development of family restaurants, downtown redevelopment, and small specialty shops. “ The chart on that page shows that 82% of respondents want downtown redevelopment to be a retail development preference.

Personally I think page 19 made the strongest statement about the downtown. “Three-fourths of respondents agreed or strongly agreed the City should promote development or redevelopment in the core of the community instead of annexing additional property.”

This survey was the data used to build the City Comprehensive Plan. The comprehensive plan has now been developed and I do feel city government has done a good job of incorporating this information into their plan. I have linked the comprehensive plan at the end of this post.

What I struggle with is the standard response I hear about downtown development. The consistent message I get from my friends at City Hall is there is no “buy-in” for downtown redevelopment. For some reason there is this caveat that City Hall needs to see buy in before anything can happen downtown. I’m trying to figure out exactly what that means but in the meantime I went on a downtown search of buy in. I think I found some in the photo above.

Here is some buy in. This property owner restored the retail space of this existing building and recently invested in another downtown property.

An out of town business owner is opening a new restaurant in Columbus. That’s good news and I would definitely call that buy in. Business owners don’t always have time to be at city meetings to voice their opinions. Sometimes actions speak louder than words and this is a good example of buying in with their checkbook.

A family business that has been buying in to downtown for over 100 years.

I can only speak for us but we have been buying in and buying in.  We've bought into our hometown business district until it hurts because we've believed in this town.  82% of City residents surveyed want downtown redevelopment to be a city economic development priority.  That is a very clear message of which direction to go from here.  This year I've watched business after business lock the doors and tape up the windows.  I personally would really like to see my friends at City Hall buy in to their survey and set the wheels in motion.  We've talked about it.  We've visited other communities. We've drawn up pictures.  Enough talking.  The time has come to act. 

Now here is a pretty good chunk of buy in. This new complex was a very serious commitment to downtown Columbus.

A downtown landmark restaurant that has been buying in for generations.  The historic downtown is one of the greatest assets Columbus has.  It is one of the few significant big pictures things that might stick in a visitors head about Columbus.  It should be our drawing card.  It's a tremendous asset that is being wasted when in reality it could be putting us on the map.  There are towns all across this country that would give their eye teeth to have the historic infrastructure that we have.  Some towns are building it from scratch.  You can keep looking to find something bigger but it's not there.  82% see it.

The business owners above are a sampling of people that have been buying in to downtown for years. Actions speak louder than words. These business owners along with others have been putting their money where their mouth is. It appears by looking at the results of the survey that downtown redevelopment is very important to this community.

The time is now to start the ball rolling.

Develop a comprehensive redevelopment plan for the entire downtown. It’s a tiny downtown. It’s not that tough to create a redevelopment district of the entire downtown including the proposed riverfront development. We have some major street and sewer projects coming down the pike that will have a huge impact on downtown over the next few years. The downtown needs to be positioned to survive that. It will be important for business owners to see a vision for the future.

People only buy in to the future. Put out a good plan and support will follow.  At this point the future is not very clear and and unfortunately the absence of a plan is not good policy to change that.

Need help putting it together? You know where to find me. Downtown.

There is a CDA meeting this Monday, Sept. 20th at the Community Center.  Meeting starts at 6:15 but Alderman Bomcamp and myself are taking a downtown walk at 5:45.  Any interested parties are welcome to join us.  Downtown is on the meeting agenda.

City of Columbus Resident Survey

City of Columbus Comprehensive Plan


  1. If those are "Buy-In" I don't know what is!I would also add Main Streets commitment to keeping the Visitor Center open and partnering with the Columbus Popcorn Wagon Inc. to preserve the George Hasey Popcorn Wagon- that's "Buy-In". I will be at the CDA meeting on Monday!

  2. As a downtown landowner I strongly agree with Todd's assessment of what is already happening downtown.