Bridge Street Corridor Study

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Location: Dublin, Ohio. Small town in Ohio

CONTEXT: An affluent community, 10 miles from downtown Columbus and Ohio’s wealthiest suburb, sprawled from a population of 2,500 in 1960 to 41,000 residents and 50,000 jobs by 2011. Jack Nicklaus golf courses, upscale shopping centers, and class A office parks positioned the community as the premier housing and office market. Thanks to Ohio’s 2% municipal tax on employee earnings, schools, public services, libraries, recreational facilities, and other amenities top national surveys.

MISSION: Named a best place to live and work by Business Week and Forbes, the community took pride in its successful sprawl growth model for five decades. Triggered by a downturn in revenues (the community’s first), the city manager grew concerned about long-term viability of sprawl to attract residents and hold onto employers facing the growing challenge of attracting educated, skilled employees. The sprawl growth model was breaking down. A consultant-led study and visioning process resulted in the community rejecting a growth pattern focused around lifestyle centers and instead committed to replacing sprawl with a new urbanist growth model that focused more than half the community’s growth for the next twenty years into a compact, walkable, mixed-use downtown. 

SITE: The study identified a collection of outmoded office parks and failed shopping centers along a 2 mile corridor (roughly 1,000 acres) as the right place to create a new downtown.

MARKET AND PROGRAM: Market studies projected a dramatic shift from a largely single-family market to a growing demand for lofts and a variety of high quality multi-family housing. Similarly, office and retail markets had shifted from traditional office and shopping center environments to a more diverse mix of places to work and shop located primarily in or near Main Street environments. Development program over 20 years: roughly 10 million SF, approximately 60% housing.

COMMUNITY PROCESS: Workshops, a charrette, and public meetings supported by national speakers to address widespread initial skepticism and build understanding and support for a new urbanist vision.

Core principles: (1) Create vibrant, walkable environments that enhance economic vitality (2) Provide civic and cultural amenities and lively public spaces that integrate the downtown into the community’s life (3) celebrate the natural setting and sustainability (4) expand choices available to the community with new options for housing, jobs, shopping, recreation, transportation (5) create places that promote community such as lively squares, parks, and Main Streets.

VISION FRAMEWORK: A series of walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods—each with a different emphasis: (residential, retail and entertainment, jobs, central park, historic village) that together form a lively, varied, downtown district and heart for the larger community. Net densities averaging 1.0 to 2.5 FAR support active street life. Retail uses are encouraged everywhere and required facing squares and along “Main Streets”; in other areas street level townhouses (often as the lower levels of multi-family buildings) or other uses that foster an interactive public environment are required. Each neighborhood forms an eco-district that addresses energy and water on a shared basis. Creeks and other natural features constitute a signature green system and both sides of a river become a “central park”.

PHASING, IMPLEMENTATION, AND PROGRESS TO DATE: Council approved the plan and appointed a deputy city manager to coordinate city departments, negotiate with developers, inform the larger community, oversee development approvals, and similar tasks. Council is adopting a Form Based Code. Two developers announced redevelopment of bookend sites (50-75 acres) for six million SF in accordance with the plan and Code. The plan has inspired the regional planning agency to reassess transportation funding to incentivize additional compact suburban development. 


Response to Charter Principles

THE REGION: METROPOLIS, CITY, AND TOWN. The plan creates an identifiable, compact center, reversing fifty years of sprawl; reasserts a river, creeks, and ravines as natural features that define community character; breaks the tradition of subdivisions and office parks by creating distinctive, interconnected, neighborhoods that emanate from the historic village center; includes civic and cultural uses in addition to a mix of private uses; introduces this suburb's first affordable housing; and introduces “transit ready” nodes consciously planned to be the region’s first suburban transit destinations.


1, 2, 7 and 8. Neighborhoods, districts, corridors. Neighborhoods are formed around quarter-mile walking radii. Each features a mix of uses with varying degrees of emphasis ranging from retail, to housing, entertainment, office, or research—and includes or borders a significant public space. The arterial connector road is transformed into a walkable Main Street with curbside parking, street trees, and a series of personalities—location for larger retail to the north, restored central Main Street for the historic village, and an “address” street for office and a mix of uses to the south. To ensure that all new buildings, public spaces, and roadways and other infrastructure are planned and designed to emphasize neighborhood building qualities, the community has already commissioned a pattern book in conjunction with a new design review and approvals process.

3. Civic, institutional, commercial and other activities should occur within walking distance. Walk to work, shop, entertainment, and recreation is strongly encouraged—and reinforced by new street grids, required mixed-use, and maximum parking ratios often half minimums required elsewhere. A new city hall and central library, fronting a new town green will replace auto-oriented facilities. The plan requires lively public spaces and incentivizes additional public and cultural uses.

4. Broad range of housing types and price levels. Plan emphasizes importance of providing a diverse mix of housing types and pricing—including a significant rental component—to provide income, age, race, and lifestyle diversity not readily apparent in existing neighborhoods. This concept has met with broad community and developer support.

5 and 6. Transit and density. The community is strongly encouraging developers to achieve allowed densities to create two “transit ready” nodes—in the two bookend initial developments—and based on the plan has reversed a longstanding policy and initiated a transit study to assess opportunities for BRT or streetcar service connecting to other regional destinations. These densities also support neighborhood-based retail.

9. A range of [green and public places]. All undeveloped natural areas are preserved. The plan creates a continuous greenway system that connects a new central riverfront park to a series of natural creek and ravine corridors, and new public parks. The greenway also channels and absorbs stormwater. 

THE BLOCK, THE STREET, AND THE BUILDING. All buildings frame and open to streets, squares, or natural places. The downtown is fully auto accessible, but emphasizes walkability; through-traffic is focused toward a nearby expressway. A new city hall and library frame a town green. New development provides a visible transition to the preserved historic village center. 

The canons of sustainable architecture and urbanism. The mixed-use downtown consists entirely of redeveloped sites (more than half of redevelopment will replace surface parking) and will shift roughly one-half of the community’s total new development from greenfields to grey and (limited) brownfields. Proposed densities represent a five-to-ten-fold increase over recently approved developments. Eco-districts will enable buildings to share energy and grey water (taking advantage of different peak usage periods)—in part greatly expanding the ability to utilize solar and wind energy generation.


Lessons Learned

PLANNING AND URBAN DESIGN. Densities of FAR 1.0 to 2.5 (consistent with lower-cost, frame construction)—if housing represents half or more of the development—are sufficient to support extensive neighborhood-serving retail; these densities can also equate to lively pedestrian streets day and evening. 

Replacing automobile-scaled superblocks with a pedestrian-scaled grid is more readily achievable if some of the blocks are scaled—minimum dimension 300’ plus sidewalks—to accommodate lower cost “liner” housing or even office together with retail to buffer parking structures from streets. A mix of uses with different peaks, together with shared parking, can reduce total parking needs by 30-50% below levels already adjusted down for walkable connections and transit. Civic, cultural, educational, recreation, lively public spaces, and new shopping and entertainment choices can provide a sense of social and civic as well as physicalconnectivity to a new district.

SUSTAINABILITY. Replacing auto-dependent greyfield development can require more than tripling existing densities to provide sufficient value to owners—whose sites are often free of mortgages and provide steady, dependable cash flow.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES. Market studies provide a skeptical community and its leadership confidence that mixed-use, walkable, new urbanist redevelopment is achievable. New urbanism provides a spoken and graphic language to convey the human scale, delight and community-building value of higher density, mixed-use development to a suburban community. “Walkable urbanism” creates value in the marketplace that can be tapped to fund public realm and infrastructure; amenity-rich, walkable environments are key to 21st century economic development—lively, walkable streets make communities more competitive for the talented knowledge workers who increasingly attract corporate investment. Pattern books and form based codes can simplify project approvals. Rubber tire and streetcar transit in mixed-traffic, can provide affordable—low initial cost—transit and in strong markets, the densities noted above can partially fund capital and operating costs.

Transect Zone(s): T4 general, T5 center.
Status: Plan Approved
Project or Plan's Scale: Region
Land area (in acres): 1000
Total built area (in sq. ft.):
Total project cost (in local currency):
Retail area (in sq. ft.):
Office area (in sq. ft.):
Industrial area (in sq. ft.):
Number of hotel units:
Number of residential units (include live/work): 4000
Parks & green space (in acres):
Project team designers: Goody Clancy
Project team developers: N/A

Previous site status:

Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: -