When my family first moved to Columbus in 1990, we lived downtown by the Scioto River. The area bustled with Midwest energy, tall buildings reflecting off the water, and super cool laser light shows. But then suburban utopias exploded on all sides of I-270, and downtown became emptier than school on a Sunday. It was an apocalyptic shell of its former self. Thankfully, huge strides have been made to not only reenergize downtown, but redefine it — all in time for the City’s 200th birthday next year.
Yesterday afternoon kicked off the grand opening celebration of the Scioto Mile, a downtown revitalization project featuring a 4.7-acre riverfront park, Promenade, permanent stage, restaurant, and fountain. Managed by Columbus Recreation & Parks, the Scioto Mile runs from the Arena District to the Whittier Peninsula. The Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC) has spent more than $40 million bringing this project to life. The 15,000-square-foot fountain contains nearly 1,000 computer-programmed jets and will be open on Wednesdays with all sorts of free kids activities. Additional plans for the Promenade include benches, swings, gardens, card and chess tables, and free Wi-Fi. Free concerts and movies will be held in Bicentennial Park. Milestone 229, the new “approachable comfort food” eatery created by the owners of Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant, has a 2,000-square foot patio facing all of the action.
For those of us who hold Downtown Columbus close to our hearts, this couldn’t be a more exciting time.