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Columbus City Council approves plan to quadruple downtown population

Part of the plan would be to convert outdated office buildings into residential buildings and approve high-density housing.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus is booming, but city leaders say it's not growing fast enough. Monday, Columbus City Council unanimously approved a resolution to quadruple the downtown Columbus population by 2040.

Currently, there are more than 10,000 people living in downtown Columbus, but if the city council gets its way, there will be 40,000 by 2040.

“We have to build. We have to build and build more,” Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin said.

Hardin said after the pandemic, the downtown area needs to be a "vibrant economic engine." There are several ways he said this is achievable.

That includes converting outdated office buildings into housing, approving high-density housing and making the city a "15-minute downtown" so neighbors can access grocery stores, daycare and more in a short period of time by walking.

“I think it is not impossible, they can always do it. But I don't think it's going to be that easy,” said Yas Motoyama, assistant professor of City and Regional Planning at Ohio State.

Motoyama said 15 minutes is a “good” number to have in mind when thinking about the "15-minute downtown."

“That's usually the maximum distance or the time of length that people like to walk. So that's a good distance to have it as a goal that you have to have three things in place: live, work, and play,” he said.

Motoyama has researched the vibrancy of areas within the state. He said Columbus and Franklin County already have a good position to increase their population.

Another factor of the plan is making sure there are affordable housing options.

“I think if we do not invest in housing, and we do not ensure that we are creating housing in tandem and parallel with our job creation, affordability is going to be at risk,” said Carlie Boos, Executive Director of Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio.

Another part of the city's plan is to increase the city's workforce to 120,000. Currently, the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation said about 90,000 people work downtown.

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