One thing is clear about downtown Columbus' future: Something must be done about the condition of High and Broad streets.

One thing is clear about downtown Columbus' future: Something must be done about the condition of High and Broad streets.

Judging by the 1,200 comments submitted during the current strategic planning process, people want the city to spruce up each corridor's appearance and functionality.

"High Street was generally recognized as one of the two most important, if not the most important, streets downtown," said Keith Myers of MSI Design, which is aiding the city in the strategic plan of the downtown area.

Blighted by vacancies, a disjointed look and lack of pedestrian-friendly amenities, the city's main thoroughfare needs swift and immediate attention, participants said. The plan calls for adding more retail and relocating buses.

"High Street is the connector to so many places in and around downtown," one respondent wrote. "Because it is so high profile, it just has to be improved. All those vacant (stores) and buildings suggest Columbus isn't as vibrant and healthy as it really is. This is a good idea."

As for Broad Street, which runs east-west and intersects with High at the center of downtown, one resident questioned when it was going on "a road diet."

"That really got us thinking," Myers said.

Traffic counts have decreased on the roadway, which is eight lanes wide - almost as wide as state Route 315. That opens up the potential for narrowing the roadway and installing walking paths as well as attractive landscaping, Myers said.

City officials and planners held their final of three public meetings May 25. Over the past three months, the city has solicited comments from those in attendance at the previous two meetings to get a clearer picture of what residents want to see happen downtown over the next 10 years.

Myers said he was encouraged by the number of responses, almost all of which were constructive. "It was remarkable," he said. "Actually we were surprised."

The plan, the first since 2002, is ambitious, city councilman Andy Ginther said. It calls for some grand projects, such as building a field house for amateur sports next to the convention center and creating a multimodal transportation hub there.

"This is not pie-in-the-sky dreaming," Ginther said. "This is ambitious. It's bold, but it's real."

Some of the projects will come with a hefty price tag, so the city will likely offer economic incentives to companies seeking to build downtown, Ginther said.

"I think there are some things that are very doable," he said. "We can't do it alone."

A final draft of the proposal must be approved by Columbus City Council, which is expected to take up the matter in July. Council will hold at least one public hearing, Ginther said.

Guy Worley, chief executive officer of the Columbus Downtown Redevelopment Corp., said the Scioto Greenways project creates an incredible opportunity for downtown. That plan calls for the removal of seven dams from downtown to High Banks Metro Park on the north side extending into southern Delaware County. That move comes at a significant cost - $60-million, by some estimates.

In particular, removing the dams at Main Street downtown and Fifth Avenue near the Ohio State University campus would narrow the river from 600 to 200 feet, opening up 45 acres of greenspace, Worley said.

"It would really be transformative for our downtown," Worley said.