An ambitious redesign of Dublin is transforming the city from suburban sprawl to urban chic. The Bridge Street District, encompassing an 1,100-acre area around the Scioto River, will boast more than 400 apartments and condominiums along with a mix of office space, retail and restaurants.
“We’re a global city of choice,” says Jeremiah Gracia, an administrator in Dublin’s Economic Development Department. “If you look at Dublin, Ohio... we’re competing on a global scale. So these types of development are what get us to stay relevant and competitive in the market truly on a global level.”
Dublin officials started making the plans 10 years ago. Brent Crawford, who works with developer Crawford Hoying, says he recognized a need for a walkable community that combines work, living, shopping and dining.
He says their Bridge Park development, inside of the Bridge Street District, puts all of those elements together.
“It allows employees to be on site, and in a lot of cases they live in the development,” Crawford says. “They go to their office, go to their work here, then leave the office, go down to a bar or restaurant which might even be in the same building.”
Crawford says his company plans to invest up to $800 million. To help get them there, Dublin officials agreed to give developer Crawford Hoying a tax abatement on the value of the new development.
Bridge Park is part of a private-public partnership with the city of Dublin.
“The economic impact that this development has on the city is very visible, but more importantly the long-term sustainability of what the city has in terms of economic revenue and what this does for us to keep us relevant in the economic development competitive market is really what’s important for this,” Gracia says.
Gracia says 80 percent of Dublin’s revenues come from income taxes. City leaders have also approved a new community authority tax of up to 0.5% at local stores and restaurants. Hotel patrons will pay up to 1% on services.
That money pays for Bridge Park improvements like parking garages, one of which earlier this month.
“It’s fantastic," says Ian Montgomery, owner of Fado on Riverside Drive. "When we moved in here we liked the energy and the vibe of the place and everywhere they’re opening up is a little bit different than everywhere else."
Customer Jaclynn Kovatch lives in Columbus, but plans to visit Dublin more often now that Bridge Park is booming.
“I think that it just brings more people, there’s more places to go out and do things in Dublin, before we didn’t really have something like this,” Kovatch says.
The crowds will only increase once construction finishes on the huge pedestrian bridge crossing the Scioto River.
“This will be a pedestrian and bicycle bridge, so both pedestrians and bicycles will be able to use it,” says Megan O’Callaghan, director of Dublin’s Public Works Department. “The main tower that we’re looking at is 171 feet tall and the deck of the bridge passes through the main tower or the needle.”
O’Callaghan says the city is using capital funds to pay for the $22 million bridge, which is set to open by the end of this year.
“It’s really important for connectivity,” O’Callaghan says. “We have significant investment being made on both sides of the river by both private developers and the city of Dublin. So it will be connecting residential, retail, commercial, be connecting historic Dublin with the new development of the east side of the river.”
Dublin officials also plan to create a park along both sides of the river.
“I actually grew up in Dublin, so it’s been cool to see the changes," says Sunanda Chilukuri, who works at the Sweetwaters coffee shop in Bridge Park. "It’s kind of nice to see this sort of urban area, right across the street from Old Dublin. I think it gives a very nice distinct vibe between the two."
Shoppers will also enjoy the variety of produce and goods at a second North Market now under construction. The new Dublin branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library will open in June. There are also plans for a field house for concerts and sporting events.
City officials say it will take several more years to finish Bridge Street District, but business owners like Ian Montgomery say it will be worth the wait.
“It’s a real indoor, outdoor experience,” Montgomery says. “We’re looking forward to the bridge opening and the park across the street from us. We get spectacular sunsets there so it’s a good place for happy hour."