Over the last few years, Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District partnered with the City of Columbus on improvements to the Pearl and Lynn alleys in the heart of downtown. Structural improvements combined with an exciting new public art project will promote development of the area as a retail enclave. These updates piggyback on the success of the Pearl Market farmers' and merchants' market. Each summer, crowds gather to shop farm-fresh favorites and hand-made goodies, proving that the Pearl and Lynn alleys offer the perfect spot for downtown retail.
Despite some unexpected delays, the City completed more than $1 million in improvements to the alleys during 2016-2017. These include new streetlights, electrical systems, dumpster enclosures, flower planters and signage. Additionally, teams installed two historic clocks that were refurbished. All of this contributes to developing both temporary and permanent retail in Pearl and Lynn alleys.
Shoppers love a beautiful environment. So, Capital Crossroads saw the alley updates as the perfect chance to highlight public art. Public art consultant Nancy Recchie worked with the Greater Columbus Arts Council and a local jury on the project. The team chose Malcolm Cochran from a pre-qualified pool of local artists to work with MKSK Landscape Architecture/Planning/Urban Design to develop a final design.
Public art should provoke a reaction. Cochran and Curtis Smith designed plastic topiary pieces to be placed in the alleys to both add beauty and spark conversation. Cochran and Smith christened the project Follies, a tribute to the architectural term for a whimsical structure built to serve as a conversation piece or to lend interest to a view. The name certainly fits. Next, the topiaries were fabricated by Curtis and Cole Smith of The Point at Otterbein University. Then, the team completed the Follies' installation in early October.
Capital Crossroads gathered funding for the project from the Ohio Arts Council, the Greater Columbus Arts Council and the Columbus Foundation. Look up at the Topiary Man as you stroll through the area and say a quick hello.
Another public art project, Bold Booths began as a continuation of the city's 2012 bicentennial celebration. This fall, teams installed two additional Bold Booths. PARKlot, located at the northeast corner of S. Fourth and E. Main streets, serves as a parklet in a pay parking lot. It adds visual intrigue and a green space for people using the street. The third Bold Booth, called Microtower, repurposes a shipping container. Turned on end, it adds another tower to the skyline.