The Future Of The Short North May Have No Parking, And This New Parking Garage Will Be Ready

Decades from now, will we get around Columbus with ridesharing, autonomous vehicles or mass transit? Or perhaps a mix of those options and more?

Real estate developers are starting to think about the uncertain future of transportation, and one new parking garage in the Short North will account for a potentially dramatic shift in the use of personal vehicles.

Wood Cos. is building a new five-level parking structure at Lincoln and Pearl streets with the intention of someday converting it to offices or residences.

As much demand as there is for parking in the Short North, someday more of the neighborhood’s workers and visitors may choose not to drive personal vehicles.

“People will be driving and commuting in different ways,” says Wood Cos. Leasing Director Tyler Puhl. “If they change, we’re in a position where we can change with them. The reason we’re doing this is that we’re continually long-term holders.”

The 240-space garage, planned for a surface lot at the northeast corner of Lincoln and Pearl streets, is thought to be the city’s first parking structure built to be convertible.

It will have flat floor plates, higher ceilings and stronger structural loads, Puhl says, noting those adjustments create additional costs.

Savings could come down the road, by converting the garage rather than demolishing it and building residences or offices from the ground up.

The same decision is being made by developers in Cincinnati, Denver, Los Angeles and around the country.

“I do expect it to be more prevalent,” says Steve Schoeny, director of Columbus’ Department of Development. “I expect more and more companies to look at it.”

For the Wood Cos. garage, the city is paying $1.25 million to reserve 125 spaces for public use, with the development team paying the city back through a 30-year special assessment.

Wood Cos. and partner Schiff Capital Group will use the private parking spaces to serve their 711 N. High St. building being constructed west of the garage.

Schoeny says the structure’s convertibility had no bearing on the deal.

Construction is expected to begin in February and be completed in about 10 months, Puhl says.

Another 10 months after that, the developer will open a street-level restaurant at the southwest corner of the site, along with 16 apartments fronting Lincoln Street.

One of the five parking levels will be below ground.

Schooley Caldwell is the project’s architect and Korda Nemeth Engineering is the engineer. A construction partner has not been named.

Puhl says the Short North garage may be a harbinger of similar projects to come.

Wood Cos. and Schiff’s planned 35-story tower at the North Market could include a convertible parking structure.

“This got our mind working on, well we don’t want to have an empty garage in 25 years,” Puhl says. “Parking is very, very expensive to build – $25,000 a space – you can’t just leave it to chance. I think you’ll see more developers doing this.”

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