Major Changes In Store For Dublin Workers, Residents

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Next week, at the city's annual State of the City address, the public will get a detailed look at the Bridge Street District project, which is slated to revamp the area near state Route 161 and Riverside Drive.

Michol Childress works in Dublin, but she doesn't live here.

"I actually live in downtown Columbus, and one of things I like about it is, it's so walkable," she said.

That's one of the concerns that Terry Foegler hopes to correct.  

The Director of Strategic Initiatives is leading the effort to transform Dublin.  He said that for the past 20 years, the community has catered to families, but not its workers or empty nesters.

"Economic development was more about being the community where the C.E.O. of the company wanted to live," Foegler said. "Increasingly, the economic model is becoming where the workers want to work."

And that, he says, mean walkability -- apartments above stores, or near them.  And more shops and restaurants to keep residents' money at home.  

"It's close to $300 million in private investment that's reflected here, with over 1,000 units of housing and many thousands of feet of office and retail development. We've done a pretty good job of planning to respond to market conditions over the last 40 years. Now we're trying to position ourselves to move forward,” Foegler said.

The in-depth plan involves expanding parkland.

City officials said they want to put parks along both sides of the under-used Scioto riverfront.

That means moving Riverside Drive east. The city already bought a closed restaurant there to allow the change. Developers meanwhile, have eyes on an adjoining driving range and a mostly-empty shopping plaza for the new projects. They've already bought land in old Dublin, near Jamie Mollwitz's  boho72 Boutique.

"I think it will be wonderful for the Dublin community. I think people are going to be very excited about it," Mollwitz said.

But Mollwitz also said that she is worried about having sufficient parking in the district to lure potential customers who live farther away.

"My customers do complain about the parking I have now, so that is a concern. But I hope with the addition of all the buildings, they will be bringing in parking as well," she said.

Foegler said the new plan addresses that issue. The additional housing will provide underground parking for residents, and thanks to the steep grade of the land near the Scioto River, new buildings will be able to have several stories of parking built below street level, Foegler said.

The crown jewel is a soaring pedestrian bridge designed by a noted California architect. It will cross the river south of the bridge that vehicles use, to tie homes and shops together.

The elaborate plan is enough to make Childress consider moving to Dublin.

"I might," she said "It's going to allow a lot more variety of personality and backgrounds and interests, that I think is really going to enrich the community."

Foegler said work could begin in the next several months, and Dublin should see a “significant amount of new development" in the next three to four years.

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