Columbus’ Condo Market Faltering

Columbus’s downtown condo market is (of course) suffering under the current housing bust, Columbus’ alt-weekly, The Other Paper, reports.

This is worrisome because the city had vested its hopes for revitalizing downtown on a influx of residential young professionals.

Columbus' Carlyle's Watch: Built During Boom Times

Columbus' Carlyle's Watch: Built During Boom Times

Condo sales account for 2 percent less of overall sales than they did before the bust and many new downtown condo developments are half empty, the paper reports.

This must be happening elsewhere. What will the timing of the economic downturn mean for this relatively new, and once-hot real estate market?

6 Comments

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6 responses to “Columbus’ Condo Market Faltering

  1. Wow, the city pegged its hopes on yuppie immigration? How original. Well, I guess I’m a member of the target demographic. Maybe they need to send out more brochures.

    Cities need to get a bit more creative about how to encourage downtown growth. Counting on wealthy folks is a bad strategy.

  2. While it’s true that certain condo developments in Downtown Columbus have struggled, others have done quite well. The Carlyle’s Watch building (pictured above) had some financial struggles while completing the building, so they’re a bit of an anomaly. Of course, our alt-weekly rag that ran the story loves to paint their one-sided pictures, so they fail to mention the condo developments that have been selling well, or have sold out.

    Overall though, the national housing crisis hurt sales all across the country both in urban and suburban area. Columbus wasn’t immune to that, but Downtown isn’t quite as bleak as that article wants to make it seem.

    • schmange

      Good point. I shouldn’t poo poo Columbus too much. But I was always skeptical about the condo market there because it was such a new market that it was hard to judge the values accurately. I think it’s fair to say a lot of them were overpriced, like a lot of other housing, and that the condo market is suffering now more than single-family.

  3. Agreed. A lot of them were priced too high for what was being offered, and I think that developers had too many dollar signs in their eyes that obscured more rational judgement. There’s more money to be made from a more high-end unit with a bigger pricetag, but there are few willing to pay that price while also being the “early adopters” moving into Downtown. There are plenty of existing amenities Downtown, but not quite the critical mass of amenities that most people are looking for.

    The other problem with Downtown Columbus is that it is a very large area. The tax abatement policy that was put into place by City Hall did a great job of spurring this type of residential development, but when one condo pops up on one side of Downtown, and another pops up over a mile away on the other side of Downtown, it doesn’t quite have the impact of two buildings opening right next to each other. So we’ve got a few clusters of success while other buildings are lonely islands.

    I think lessons have been learned though, and there’s a variety of development still moving forward. Neighborhood Launch is a good one to keep an eye on. They just broke ground on their third phase. Essentially they’re replacing nine blocks of Downtown parking lots with a single four-story parking deck and the rest is three-to-five story residential build out. It seems a bit low-density for a Downtown location, but so far it’s really working well. Sales have been steady from what I’ve read, and the overhaul that it’s brought to that area has just been astounding.

    • schmange

      I agree with you there too. One of the problems is that downtown space is so plentiful. I think the sheer volume of space available for development drives down prices. I don’t know if Columbus will ever be a really livable downtown. But there’s definitely been some progress. It looks like they are trying something neat down by the river.

  4. Yeah, the “Riversouth” area along the riverfront downtown is coming along nicely. Between the new Lifestyle Communities Apartments, the new Scioto Mile greenspace, the new County Courthouse Annex and a brand new parking garage (to counter balance all of the parking lots disappearing with these various developments) it’s going to look really transformed after construction starts wrapping up next Spring/Summer.

    Info on all of those projects can be found here: http://www.downtowncolumbus.com/progress

    I think Downtown Columbus will once again be the livable/walkable/dense community of 30,000 residents that it once was 50 years ago… it’s just going to take another 30-40 years to get back to that point. Decline and recovery are unfortunately very slow processes, but it’s an exciting time to be watching that rebirth really starting to take off.

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