The SID's Acting Executive Director, Marc Conte, noted that last year’s report was presented about two weeks prior to Governor DeWine’s COVID state of emergency order. There was hope, at the time, that the pandemic would not affect downtown significantly. In the end, its effect was powerful.
Conte shared that from 2019 to the end of 2020 the office vacancy rate jumped five points from 14 to 19 percent. The downtown residential market saw the apartment occupancy rate drop eight points from 94 to 86 percent.
Both changes were driven by COVID, as well as the protests that erupted after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But despite the recent difficulties, one billion dollars in new construction is underway in downtown Columbus.
"There is some uncertainty about what the future holds for downtown," Conte shared.
He outlined the positives about downtown— office space in a creative center; living in and near amenities; retail and restaurants; and hotels— while acknowledging what remains unknown about each sector due to the fallout from the pandemic.
“Despite these challenges,” added Conte, “I am bullish on downtown, and we all should be because it’s important and special.”
Conte encouraged the community not to leave downtown’s recovery to chance. The stakeholders who moved the needle so far forward of the last 20 years have played a vital role in advancing the vision of downtown and must continue to do so.
The full report can be found here.