Population Growth Driving Development in Columbus Through 2050 and Beyond
On Thursday, May 9 CAA members met at Strongwater in Franklinton for the second General Membership meeting of the year with guest Speaker Stephen Patchan of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) to discuss Insight 2050 and what it means to multifamily housing in Central Ohio. Before the headlining speaker CAA Executive Director Laura Swanson welcomed guests and took the opportunity to highlight a few milestones. First, she wished CAA President David Holzer of Commercial One Realtors a Happy Birthday, next she invited longtime CAA Bookkeeper, Kathi Wilson to the stage to mark her 34 years with the CAA. Kathi will be retiring in August and received a warm round of applause from the audience. Swanson congratulated 444-ABLE Roof on once again willing best in show at this year’s CAA Expo giving them first choice of booth at the 2020 tradeshow. She quickly moved through other business items including reminding attendees of the upcoming Business Exchange on May 22 and the CAA 50th Anniversary party on October 17th before welcoming CAA Membership Vice President Don Brunner to the podium to introduce the new members in attendance. With all business aside, Holzer took the podium to introduce the keynote speaker. Patchan gave a quick overview of MORPC, their purpose and their coverage area before doing a deep dive into what the future of Columbus holds relative to population growth. Stating the MORPC works a lot with data and making a narrative that explains what the data is saying to map out the future. Noting that in 2013 they realized that by 2050 the Columbus area population will increase by as many as one million people with conservative estimates being just over 622,000. “We have two million people right now. We could potentially be around three million people and growing,” Patchan said. “We are the only city and region in Ohio that’s growing and one of the fastest growing cities and regions in the Midwest. We’re doing a lot of things right, we’re telling the story of Central Ohio right and its showing.” Patchan state that what sets Columbus apart from other cities that have experienced growth is that Columbus is taking a pro-active approach to growth as opposed to a reactive approach which leads to a scenario similar to what San Francisco is experience with little housing and high rents. With the population growth will come a demographic change. Initially, the city will become extremes, much younger and much older, but, by 2030 the demographic will shift and the city will become much younger. “What does that lead to? What kind of housing do we need and where should that housing be built?” Patchan asked. “We can’t look at just housing alone. Housing, transportation, environmental impacts, air quality, economics, there’s a huge variety of factors. Looking at the urban and suburban areas they’re going to continue to develop and change. What will they look like 10 to 15 years out?” Focusing specifically on transportation for a bit, Patchan outlined what the future holds for autonomous vehicles and how that will impact travel in Central Ohio, however, he emphasized that even with autonomous vehicles there will still be vehicles on the road, there will still be an environmental impact. “All of these really shiny toys aren’t going to matter if you’re still stuck in traffic. Your time is money. If you can do some work while you’re stuck in traffic, it’s still time away from your family,” he said. “If we grow by one million people traffic is going to be an issue. How to we mitigate it, if we can mitigate it how can we develop strategies to make sure that our time is still a priority.” Insight 2050 is a collaboration that will work to develop over the coming year focusing on scenarios, strategies and priorities. Patchan said that part of the discussion is making sure there are choices, housing choices and transportation choices that will assist in the population growth. He then outlined how the city needs to respond to the growth, crosswalks, aesthetic investment, private investment, an increase in foot traffic will lead to best case scenario development. One example was the building everyone was in, Strongwater in Franklinton, it was a prime illustration of improvement and development. Spending the last few minutes describing the development trends of multifamily and single family homes stating that the trend has been nearly double the demand and starts for multifamily versus single family housing since 2010. The trend is expected to continue. It’s a choice for individuals, the market is demanding that portfolios diversify. The market is saying that single family housing is falling out of favor trending toward multifamily housing. Renters grew 37% in 2017 versus 4% growth for multifamily homes over the same period. Demand is higher than production currently, more housing will be needed for the projected growth. Comparable cities are increasing their housing by 15,000 units per year where Columbus is increasing by 5,000 units. Focusing at the end on the exciting things coming for Columbus Patchan fielded questions from the audience including how to bring the suburbs into the development fold and what will drive the change in the age of the population. Swanson thanked everyone for coming and invited them to participate in an upcoming CAA event.
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