Photo credit MORPC
Insight2050 is the first phase of a project that will give land-use decision makers the information they need regarding growth in the seven-county, Central Ohio region. The report details the choices that can be made and the related consequences for the region depending on where growth occurs.
The initiative is a collaboration between the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, Columbus 2020, and ULI Columbus, who collectively retained the services of Calthorpe Associates, one of the nation’s most experienced planning firms. The goal was to develop analytics to assist local decision makers in evaluating and preparing Central Ohio and Columbus for future growth and development.
Growth will happen. By 2050, the region is expected to grow by more than 500,000 people with 300,000 additional jobs.
Not so different from other metropolitan areas, Columbus will begin to see a completely different population than past decades.Both baby boomers and young adults are estimated to make up almost 80 percent of the growth in Central Ohio. These populations are expecting a broader range of housing options. In the past, Columbus saw housing growth primarily with the development of single family detached homes on larger lots. In contrast, baby boomers and young adults are looking for small-lot, single family homes, townhomes, and multifamily apartments and condos. They are also seeking walkable communities with all necessary amenities.
As these needs grow, opportunities will be presented, not only in housing, but for businesses and other urban developments. Communities will begin to become denser and more compact. More people will want amenities within walking distance, giving businesses opportunities to grow within neighborhoods.
The report found four possible scenarios for the future of Columbus, taking into account the projected population and job growth.
Scenario A: Past Trends
Continuing the trends of past decades, a majority of growth would spread to undeveloped land, leaning towards suburban and rural, and is automobile-oriented. This scenario would be comprised of larger-lot single-family homes and suburban office parks and commercial centers.
Scenario B: Planned Future
Looking at current plans and policies of Central Ohio in this scenario, there is more compact growth with smaller lot single family and attached homes. However, it is still primarily automobile-oriented, and growth remains at the edge of cities and towns. It’s split between infill or redevelopment and undeveloped land.
Scenario C: Focused Growth
Trying to accommodate more growth in infill and redevelopment locations, growth occurs in significantly smaller lot single family, attached single-family, and multifamily homes. This is seen with development that features walkable and mixed-use areas. 10 percent of growth is developed in Downtown Columbus.
Scenario D: Maximum Infill
With growth maximized to infill on previously developed parcels and within existing urban areas, this scenario anticipates up 30 percent of growth in city centers and commercial corridors. 70 percent is comprised of moderate density and walkable, compact development with multifamily, attached single family/townhomes, and smaller-lot single family homes. Larger-lot single family housing is limited, as demand is met through existing supply.
Initiating a conversation
Insight2050 was not meant as a prescription for growth. Instead, the goal was to begin a conversation about the choices that exist for Columbus, and it’s surrounding region. What follows must be a discussion on demographic changes and how housing and community preferences will shape Central Ohio. Demand once called for sprawling suburbs and cities dependent on cars; recent trends are shifting towards infill projects and urban development.
It’s apparent that the past is not where the future is. As demographics shift and singles, seniors, and child-free couples become the majority, it’s time to re-evaluate what the landscape of our city will be.
Phase Two of Insight2050 is currently underway and will provide guidance, planning resources, and community engagement tools which will enable communities to make informed decisions about land use practices. It will include four components: outreach, peer learning, best practices, and development resources.