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Part 5 of a 5-part series on the Intercity Leadership Exchange.]

By embracing stewardship, cities can create public spaces for all to enjoy, such as Columbus Commons. In addition, it can result in a more welcoming and ecologically-sound environment for citizens.

The University of Florida’s Strategic Development Plan seeks to shape the university and surrounding community’s future over the next 50 years and establish the framework for the “New American City.”

The plan comprises four main initiatives: New American City, Proximity, Strong Neighborhoods and Stewardship.

The Stewardship initiative recommends studying open space, landscaping, street and utility networks, stormwater and other infrastructure, and partnering with the city on large-scale open spaces, bike-pedestrian trails and stream-corridor restoration to advance the region’s ecological health and outdoor amenities.

Next month, the Chamber is leading a delegation of business and community leaders from greater Gainesville to Columbus, Ohio for its annual InterCity Leadership Exchange. Participants will return to Gainesville with lessons learned and ideas to share that may spark conversation about how we continue to move forward in pursuit of the stewardship initiative.

Attendees of the InterCity Leadership Exchange will visit with the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC). In leveraging the leadership, facilitation and advocacy of the and Capitol South, Columbus has rapidly become an award-winning model of urban aesthetics; one of the most attractive city centers in the United States. Two of their largest projects that we will explore on the trip include the Columbus Commons and the Scioto Mile.

Columbus Commons is a premier urban park that is designed to multitask: It serves the neighborhood as a vital green oasis, while offering features that make it the perfect spot for city-wide events. The Columbus Commons stands at the original site of the City Center Mall. Exploring options for revitalization and re-use of the mall, the CDDC resolved that the site provided a novel opportunity to create a mixed-use development anchored by a permanent green space. This eco-friendly project was able to recycle an estimated 80% of all materials from the former City Center. Today, Columbus Commons boasts world-class gardens, a state-of-the-art performance space, a hand-carvel carousel, an outdoor reading room, two cafes, and activity options that include bocce courts and a life-size chess set.


The Scioto Mile project transformed an aging, neglected civic resource into a vital network of public green spaces. It reconnected downtown to the Scioto River with an integrated system of parks, boulevards, bikeways, and pedestrian paths. The resulting waterfront scene is the subject of national accolades, the Urban Land Institute jointly recognized the Scioto Mile and Columbus Commons as Urban Open Space Award Finalists in 2014. The Scioto Mile is a model of the type of successful public-private partnership for which CDDC is renowned. To learn more about the CDDC and its award-winning projects, visit


For a complete list of the InterCity Leadership Exchange discussion topics and areas of study, view the itinerary. If you have not yet registered, make sure to reserve your spot today as participation is limited. Click here to register.

Read all the articles in the series:

  1. Join the Intercity Leadership Exchange
  2. The New American City
  3. Proximity
  4. Strong Neighborhoods
  5. Stewardship (This Article)
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