“What’s that going up in the air?” The past couple of weeks at the Greater Columbus Convention Center have involved a crane reinstalling the clock tower on the West Garage on Vine Street, a WBNS-TV helicopter landing in our dock area and then pushed into an exhibit hall for an expo, and the August 25 installation of the glass sky bridge connecting us to the new Hilton Columbus Downtown.
The pedestrian sky bridge is believed to be the first of its kind in the world. It weighs 138 tons and is 105 feet long. Two cranes moved the bridge into place with gradual precision. The construction team seemed as calm as ever during the project. At ground level, there were a lot of comments from the crowd. “Whoa!” “It’s up in the air! “It’s turning!” “Hope the crane operators didn’t stay out late last night!” The crane-operating team even took time to give stickers to the kids watching the process.
The bridge is designed to provide a view outside to the people walking across it, and a view inside the bridge to those outside walking or driving by. It has a round, tube spine on the top, with supporting pieces that hang below to frame the pieces of glass on the sides. It’s a giant glass jigsaw puzzle that worked!
More than connecting the new 532-room Hilton with the Convention Center, the bridge is a symbol of the cooperation between the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, City of Columbus and Nationwide Realty Investors with Hilton Worldwide and the construction team to build the hotel.
There were many times when meeting planners were delighted by the amenities Columbus offers, but needed another full-service, convention-style hotel with hundreds more guest rooms by the convention center to even consider Columbus.
Now we’ll have them. Combining the existing amenities with this new hotel inventory will enable our city to compete as a national convention destination for more than 900 more events and benefit the entire hospitality community! Other surrounding hotels have already spent millions recently enhancing their properties, too.
The NHL All-Star Game in 2013 and the 16,000-person South Baptist Convention in June 2015 are just two groups that required a guarantee of these additional hotel rooms before making commitments to come to Columbus.
Accompanying the Hilton project is the renovation and expansion of our West Garage on Vine Street. The majority of the work will be finished by October 15. Then we’ll have 3,370 parking spots in our lot and garage inventory. When you’re looking for a place to park, we’re right across the street from the Arena District!
These additions to the downtown skyline have provided jobs during the construction process and more jobs when the hotel opens. Columbus will now qualify as a destination for many more events. And when the day’s business is finished for attendees at the Convention Center and they’re ready to go out and play, our partners in the Arena District will be ready for them!
Jennifer Davis is the marketing & communications manager for the SMG-managed Greater Columbus Convention Center.