The bold, curving lines of the National Veterans Memorial & Museum -- the "national" designation awaits formal approval in Congress -- are beginning to take shape along the Scioto River.

The bold, curving lines of the National Veterans Memorial & Museum -- the "national" designation awaits formal approval in Congress -- are beginning to take shape along the Scioto River.

Construction workers are performing the tricky task of pouring concrete into a steel framework supported by temporary metal framework. Glass walls and a grove of trees alongside the building will come later.

The project will include a "rooftop sanctuary" for ceremonies and events, a memorial grove with fountains and artwork, and a museum highlighting the stories of veterans from Ohio and around the country.

Targeted to open in summer 2018, the project at 300 W. Broad St., on the site of the former Veterans Memorial venue, is part of the city's drive to spark development in the East Franklinton neighborhood, also dubbed the Scioto Peninsula. More than $130 million worth of construction and development projects are underway.

The Columbus Downtown Development Corp. is overseeing most of that work. The private nonprofit organization previously was charged by the city of Columbus with rehabbing the old Lazarus building and transforming the former Columbus City Center mall site into Columbus Commons park.

In addition to the $70 million Veterans Memorial project, the corporation is undertaking a $37 million project to build an underground parking garage for COSI Columbus, topped by new parkland.

COSI also will add a $7 million dinosaur exhibit in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History, and the city is making improvements to Broad Street between COSI and the Veterans Memorial project to make it friendlier to bicyclists and pedestrians.

Amy Taylor, chief financial officer for the development group, said "the Peninsula" is the group's new area of focus, now that the last piece of the Columbus Commons plan -- the Two25 Commons building from Daimler Group and Kaufman Development -- is underway.

The neighborhood

The Scioto Peninsula area was identified as a focus by the downtown development group and the city several years ago as part of the city's multimillion-dollar revamp of the riverfront.

The area is just a slice of the East Franklinton neighborhood, bounded by the Norfolk Southern railroad track that curves through the area, roughly lying just beyond Starling Street to the south and west, including an elevated bridge next to the Spaghetti Warehouse restaurant parking lot. The Vets site abuts the railroad track on the north side.

Plans for that area have changed since they were first outlined in 2010. For one thing, a 2014 levy request that would have supported a small Columbus Zoo and Aquarium satellite location was soundly rejected. But the goal of making the area a cultural district remains the same.

The completion of the 7-acre Veterans Memorial will mark just the first phase of development for the 21-acre area surrounding the memorial.

Guy Worley, CEO of the development group, recently pointed to a rendering and observed,"This is all future development."

Although the buildings that eventually go up are likely to differ from the renderings, glass office towers and residential buildings with street-level retail space are envisioned on what are now vacant lots owned by the county.

The new buildings are expected to materialize as private developers move in to take advantage of the added foot traffic and amenities the projects will bring. They also will benefit from stunning views of downtown Columbus from across the Scioto River.

This follows the template of what the downtown group did with Columbus Commons, where the park, outdoor stage, landscaping and other amenities created a canvas for private development.

The land around the edges of the park reserved for apartments and office/mixed-use buildings filled in more quickly than anticipated. The apartments and office space have opened with virtually 100 percent occupancy.

Veterans' stories

While the broad strokes of the wider neighborhood are being discussed, work is set to begin in the spring on the interior of the National Veterans Memorial & Museum, designed by Allied Works Architecture and being built by Turner Construction.

The exhibits are being designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, a New York company that has worked on high-profile projects around the world. The museum will contain many interactive displays, including oral histories and military artifacts.

Mary Beth Byrne, the content manager overseeing the Vets project for Appelbaum, said the transition from the original vision of the museum being a statewide one to becoming a national one broadens the scope of the project, but it is not a total shift.

"The basic narrative in the museum was always a national story: the veterans' experience," Byrne said. "In going national, we've revisited the storyline and the specific artifacts and images. It increases the number of oral histories and other sources we can draw from."

Byrne said the Ohio History Connection, formerly known as the Ohio Historical Society, has been "extremely helpful" in doing research and outreach for the project. Focus groups composed of Ohio veterans also have been a source for material, including oral histories.

"Our projects run the gamut in terms of size and scope," Byrne said. "This one is special. We really hope the museum is a place that connects veterans and civilians, and (speaks) to what it means to serve in many forms."

For more information about the project, go to Those interested in donating materials may contact planners via email at