Riverfront Planning Receives National Award

By Juliann Garrett | 04 Apr, 2016

Newly restored riverfront along the Scioto River.

Courtesy of the American Planning Association, Washington, D.C. – The American Planning Association (APA) has awarded Ohio’s Columbus Riverfront the 2016 National Planning Excellence Award for Implementation. The honor recognizes the continual planning, cooperation, and development that have driven massive growth and dramatic revitalization of Columbus’ downtown riverfront area.

Once an unremarkable stretch of brownfields, arterials, and underutilized public space along the Scioto River, today’s riverfront area is an urban oasis of parkland, recreation, and nature preserves that—through the combined efforts of city planners, the community, and private partners—has become a gathering place, commercial center, and connection point for Columbus as a whole.

The Implementation Award recognizes efforts that demonstrate a significant achievement for an area, whether a single community or a region, in accomplishing positive changes through planning. To effectively demonstrate the implementation success, the selected effort must have been in effect for a minimum of three years.

“The redevelopment of our riverfront is representative of the renaissance that Downtown Columbus has experienced,” said Guy V. Worley, President and CEO of the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation. “The accomplishments are a direct result of public /private partnerships that stem from an open dialogue and collaboration between all aspects of our community.”

Planning for the Columbus Riverfront began with the city’s 1998 Riverfront Vision Plan, which established the objective of creating a revitalized riverfront area to become a regional destination and connector for various Columbus neighborhoods. Subsequent plans in 2002 and 2010 refined this vision based on community feedback and new improvements to the area.

The Columbus Riverfront today features a multitude of parks and recreational outlets, as well as a thriving river ecosystem, and hosts a variety of community events and festivals throughout the year. With the removal of two dams, the Scioto River has returned to a free-flowing, navigable river downtown.

In the 17 years since the initial plan, the public and private sectors have worked together in tandem with the City to invest more than $127 million in 179 acres of new and renovated parkland. This has triggered an additional $1.4 billion in private investment in districts and neighborhoods surrounding the Scioto River. The residential population of downtown Columbus has also more than doubled during this time—rising by 108 percent since 2002 alone—the first registered increase since 1950.

“Through planning, Columbus has created a public living room reconnecting the residents to the river,” said W. Shedrick Coleman, APA 2016 APA Jury chair. “The dynamic and ecologically flourishing riverfront area demonstrates the power of good long-term planning to transform cities and communities.”

Read more about the Columbus Riverfront.

The 2016 APA National Planning Award recipients will be honored at a special luncheon on April 4, 2016, during the APA National Planning Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The award winners will also be featured in the April 2016 issue of Planning magazine.

For a list of all of the APA 2016 National Planning Excellence and Achievement Award recipients, visit www.planning.org/awards. APA’s national awards program, the profession’s highest honor, is a proud tradition established more than 50 years ago to recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts, and individuals for their leadership on planning issues.

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science, and profession of good planning–physical, economic and social–so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Ill. For more information, visit www.planning.org.