Convention Center Garage adds 800 spaces to downtown

A new $18 million parking garage might not be the sexiest story in central Ohio.
But for area commuters who want to enjoy the Short North or attend events at the Greater Columbus Convention Center or downtown, the level of convenience it provides can’t be overstated, some local observers say.
The eight-level, 800-space parking garage is open for business on the northern edge of the convention center.
“The new Goodale Garage is distinctive in appearance as well as conveniently located,” said Jennifer Davis, spokeswoman for the center.
“It will serve guests of the convention center, our restaurant partners located on the Cap at Union Station, and visitors to our nearby Short North Arts District, North Market and Arena District neighbors.”
The garage also is along the route of the Cbus downtown circulator, a free service for those traveling between the Short North and Brewery District.
“We’re a good starting point for a lot of things,” Davis said.
The structure has some attractive design elements, such as LED lighting fins illuminating the exterior.
Public art created by local students and professionals is interspersed throughout the garage, which is fully automated with pay-on-foot stations offering credit-card options. Guests also have the option to pre-pay for parking via Parking Panda and other online reservation programs.
The structure will be connected by an enclosed walkway to the convention center upon completion of the venue’s $125 million expansion and renovation in 2017.
Parking is a big revenue generator for the convention center, accounting for 31 percent, or $5.7 million, of its budget, Davis said.
Betsy Pandora, executive director of the Short North Alliance, said a study two years ago found there was ample parking available in the area, but “it isn’t always easy to find.”
Things have improved in the neighborhood: Two parking garages, offering 300 spaces each, have opened along High Street — one at Russell Street and the other several blocks north on Hubbard Avenue.
Providing more parking is a positive development, she said.
“We are just thrilled,” Pandora said, “and I just think this is going to be an important new asset for visitors and business owners in the Short North Arts District.”
In related news from the convention center, the new Union Station Ballroom has opened just in time for the Arnold Sports Festival, which is in town March 4-6.
The venue is named after Columbus Union Station, which opened in 1850.