Yesterday it was a beautiful, spring-like day in Columbus, and after lunch I took a walk down to Columbus Commons — the latest green space in downtown Columbus. The area has just been sodded and is close to being completed for its grand opening in May.
Columbus Commons is the park that has replaced the late, lamented Columbus City Center mall. After the City Center became a derelict place abandoned by all retailers and shoppers, there was a vigorous debate about what to do. The decision was to tear the structure down and replace it with a park. The result is Columbus Commons — 9 acres of green space with benches, tables and chairs, and a carousel.
My first impression of Columbus Commons was that it is big. It has enormous central lawns that apparently will be used for kickball leagues. (Let’s hope the park also has a good underground sprinkling system so those broad and inviting green lawns don’t turn brown and brittle in August.) There are newly planted trees along some of the wide gravel pathways, large flower beds bordered by short iron fencing, old-fashioned black metal lighting, and plenty of benches. Some of the entrances are brickwork, with pillars and large circular planters.
Downtown Columbus needs green space, so Columbus Commons is very welcome. The park looks to be well-designed, and if it is kept properly planted and tended it should be an attractive place for an outdoor lunch on a warm summer day. The park also allows for some unexpected and attractive vistas of downtown buildings.
The big question many downtowners have about Columbus Commons is: who will use it, and how? Will it become a haven for drug deals and aggressive panhandlers, or will it be a place where the burgeoning Columbus food cart scene sets up shop and caters to office workers happy to get a green space break from their cubicle-oriented lives?