Columbus Park comes back to life with $19M loft project

Columbus Park Lofts will be a mix of one- and two-bedroom studios, designed for entrepreneurial and artistic residents. Rendering courtesy of GastingerWalker&.

For years, development in Columbus Park has lagged far behind its surrounding neighbors. Located north of 5th street and just east of the flourishing River Market, Columbus Park encompasses 21 blocks of misused land that’s been waiting for the right developer to step in and breathe new life back into the neighborhood. Now, a team is stepping in to do that very thing.

Since the beginning of his career, redeveloping Columbus Park has been a dream of Kirk Gastinger, a partner at local architecture firm GastingerWalker&.

“In the early 70s, while working in my first architectural job, I admired the sketches and drawings of a renewed Columbus Park with infill houses, the renovated Don Bosco Center, urban housing and landscape throughout the neighborhood,” Gastinger said.

In 2007, a joint venture between Prairie Fire Development and Columbus Park Developers assembled behind this vision and became the designated master developer of the unused tract of the neighborhood. Through the blend of housing and shops, the team believes Columbus Park could be the rebirth of a great urban community.

“From the beginning, everyone was focused on making sure the development was uniquely Columbus Park,” said Matt Wild, a partner at GastingerWalker&. “This pushed the design to de-emphasize the scale of the development, be pedestrian minded and neighborly. The result is a mixed scale development that is open and inviting both inside and out. People, breezes and light all have the opportunity to pass through.”

The 108-unit, five-building development has a mix of one- and two-bedroom units with open floor plans ranging from 675 to 875 square feet. The development will also offer over 6,000 square feet of community space, which will include amenities such as a fitness center, a game room, gallery/art studio space, business center, a covered outdoor patio and even a collaboration clubhouse for the entrepreneurial-minded residents.

Of the 108 units that will be available, 54 of the units will be income restricted, with rents ranging from $500 to $610. The 54 remaining market-rate units will range from $895 to $945 for one-bedroom and $1,150 to $1,300 for two-bedroom units.

The $19 million project is the first phase of a larger plan to breathe life back into the overlooked Columbus Park neighborhood. Rendering courtesy of GastingerWalker&.

“The buildings are set to a low scale and massing similar to the existing houses and buildings throughout the neighborhood. Balconies, outside stairs, colors and materials along with the sidewalks, hidden parking and landscape/streetscape will integrate with the existing neighbors,” Wild said.

Keeping the roots of the neighborhood alive and with hopes to rebuild the urban community, GastingerWalker& plans to bring the Columbus Park neighborhood together by taking advantage of the wide spread area the development will cover.

“With five buildings on the site, we had an opportunity to engage multiple intersections and help bolster neighborly interactions. In particular, the two-story building on Fifth Street and Charlotte opens up to the neighborhood with a covered patio, gardens and Columbus Park community space. It will also feature a tall masonry chimney with painted mural that is intended to serve as a new beacon for the neighborhood,” Wild said.

The $19 million project is scheduled to be complete in December 2016. Clockwork Architecture is also involved with the project, leading the design on larger 54-unit building. Prairie Fire Construction Group is the contractor, Taliaferro & Browne is the civil engineer on the project, Leigh & O'Kane is the structural engineer, while Welch & Mitchell will handle mechanical, electrical and plumbing.

“This will take a little time, but we are so proud to have been a part of a plan that has finally started to be achieved,” said Gastinger.