Year in Review: 2011’s 5 Most Compelling Local News Trends

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From the December 22, 2011 edition

Columbus had a memorable year in terms of sports, politics, culture and city living. Here’s a look back at the five most interesting developments.

5. Local indie food continues to intrigue

The city’s cuisine was big news last year and, honestly, the year before that. Compelling culinary developments kept coming in 2011, and it’s hard to pin down which was most important.

Local diners saw a rebirth in the Downtown restaurant scene, as De Novo Bistro, MoJoe Lounge, Milestone 229, Market 65 and others opened minutes from Capitol Square. They saw a parade of new food carts and trucks that inspired several festivals and a mobile app built to track them. And they surfed a wave of quality ethnic restaurants that popped up in odd places, like Aoi Blue Bar on Bethel Road.

4. CAPA offers steady hand to additional arts groups

Founded in 1969 to save the Ohio Theatre, the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts stepped in this year to manage several organizations facing financial difficulties.

When the Drexel Theatre was sold in March, CAPA took over accounting, marketing, programming and development duties for the Bexley movie house. In May, the company offered even more comprehensive services to cash-strapped Opera Columbus.

So far, CAPA appears unstoppable. The company reported a surplus for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

3. Crowd funding boosts local projects

Musicians, authors, directors and other Columbus artists flocked to crowd-funding website kickstarter.com to fund albums, books, films and plays. The website’s an indie win-win: Users search for and support worthy endeavors with small donations, and projects are launched without loans from banks. Local ideas that were successfully bankrolled include Nick Dekker’s “Breakfast with Nick: Columbus” guidebook and an issue from Nix Comics Quarterly.

2. Redevelopment spreads to forgotten pockets

High-profile neighborhoods like the Short North, Arena District and Downtown saw public and private investment this year. Yet so did smaller districts most Columbus residents couldn’t find on a map.

Southern Orchards, on the South Side, is being shaped simultaneously by young developer John Delia and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. East Franklinton, across the river from Downtown, is being re-imagined by a working group of city officials, private developers, nonprofits and artists. American Addition, located just north of East Fifth and Joyce avenues, is seeing new housing and infrastructure projects.

1. Green space reshapes Downtown

A nine-acre park sits where a fortress-style mall once stood. An emerald ribbon adorns part of the Scioto River once bordered by crumbling concrete.

Looking back, it’s hard to recall what Downtown looked like at the end of 2009, when City Center was demolished. Remember that awful enclosed walkway over South High Street? Did you ever stroll with a date along South Civic Center Drive?

Probably not.

Columbus Commons and Scioto Mile are distinct green spaces that have transformed Downtown in tandem — providing places to picnic, beautifying a drab landscape and attracting the mixed-use development all neighborhoods need.