Commercial real estate industry insights.

Columbus, Ohio Undergoes Explosive Growth

by Don Donald Miller, II, MAI, AI-GRS | Apr 29, 2022

In January, tech giant Intel Corp. announced plans to invest $20 billion in building computer chip-making plants in the metro Columbus area. The company’s decision to build this massive real estate project in one of the city’s suburbs reinforces the metro’s growing reputation as one of the country’s major business hubs and as a highly desirable place to live, work and play.

While metro Columbus is proud of its heritage as an agricultural power, the rapidly expanding number of commercial and residential real estate projects has transformed this Buckeye State region into one of the country’s top second-tier urban centers.

The greater Columbus area’s make-over is reflected by the growing number of completed construction projects or in the pipeline. According to one published report, 21 metro Columbus construction projects, totaling more than $540 million, were completed in 2021. That includes work on a $300 million, 20,000-seat professional soccer stadium and a nearby 15-acre mixed-use development in the city’s Arena District.

What follows are details of some completed and planned major real estate projects in the metro Columbus area:

  • Intel’s Chip Manufacturing Plants – The anxiously awaited arrival of one of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies to the farm fields of central Ohio marks a dramatic tech expansion and manufacturing turnaround for Ohio and the Midwest, following a long period of transition from having been a manufacturing hub. Intel is building two semiconductor fabrication plants in Columbus’ neighboring city of New Albany to help alleviate a global chip shortage and create a Midwestern technology hub. The project has been hailed as the largest private-investment construction development in the state’s 219-year history.
  • Other New Albany Projects – Besides the Intel project, New Albany is the site of other major commercial and residential projects. Located in Franklin and a portion of Licking counties, the Columbus suburb (population: 10,000-plus) is home to new office buildings, warehouses, data centers, retail establishments and apartment complexes. New Albany is also where biotech firm Amgen will build a plant, slated to be operational in two years.
  • Ohio State University’s Innovation District – The Columbus Dispatch depicted this mixed-use development located within the university’s west campus as “a sea of cranes that is transforming the campus.” OSU is expected to invest nearly $650 million in this huge development project dubbed an “innovation district”. It will include between 4 million to 6 million SF of space for healthcare facilities, between 1,500 and 2,000 SF of residential space, between 100,000 and 200,000 SF of retail stores, and a 180-to 220-bed hotel. The district is predicted to create around 12,000 jobs over the next two decades. Nearby, the school is in the process of building the Wexner Medical Center Inpatient Hospital, a 1.9 million SF, 820-bed building, the university’s largest single facility project. The medical center is expected to be completed in 2026.
  • The Peninsula – Located on the west side of the Scioto River, this mixed-use downtown project plans to create the city’s next neighborhood. It could include up to 20 buildings with 2 million SF of offices, 1,800 residences, 200,000 SF of retail space, 400 hotel rooms, and parking facilities. Described as “a lush urban oasis”, the two-phase project will offer acres of parks, community green spaces, biking trails and other amenities when completed.
  • North Market Tower – When completed, the 700,000 SF, 31-story downtown Columbus building will be the city’s largest structure in more than three decades. The mixed-use project will include 170-plus rental units, a 212-room hotel, a parking garage and more than 11,000 SF for expansion in the historic North Market area. Work on the project is expected to begin this summer.
  • • Trolley District – Completed in 2021, the $25 million development opened a food hall in its East Market building, the largest of the five buildings planned for the district, which formerly housed the city’s trolley facilities. Plans also call for a brewpub and a 100-plus unit apartment building.
  • • Nationwide Children’s Hospital Expansion – Nationwide Children’s Hospital announced last year that it plans to build a new 12-story inpatient tower, similar to an existing 302-bed tower, as part of its $3.3 billion investment in the hospital’s five-year strategic plan. The new tower, located in the downtown area, will take several years to be completed.
  • • Fifth Third Center – The 25-story tower on Capitol Square in downtown Columbus is undergoing a $24 million renovation. The building’s owner, a Michigan private equity investment firm, has pledged to breathe new life into the building that has struggled over the years. Plans call for a new lobby, a complete renovation of the ground-floor retail space, penthouse tenant lounge and outdoor patio, modernize the fitness center, and an upgrade of the building’s elevators and other mechanical systems.