If you’ve been driving around you now know that it’s that time of year known as Move In/Move Out. The special period when students and other young adults move from one slum property to another in the hopes that their high dollar rent will buy a little more than it did the year before. An integral part of the tradition is abandoning a large portion of your belongings along the way. In previous years, the city stationed dumpsters about and they were emptied fairly regularly. Due to budget cuts the city didn’t do it this year. Ohio State did position some dumpsters about but the area was much smaller. They weren’t emptied often enough. Some were set on fire. Probably because there were couches in them and that’s what you do with a couch. Torch it for a special occasion. Since the mayor and city council are too busy planning their upcoming trip to Club Fed the only thing to do is to call 311 often. It’s unfortunate that people just moving here probably think it looks like this all the time. Consequently, why keep it neat and tidy the rest of the year. It sets a bad example and people who come here doing this period think it’s a slum. It’s also incredibly disappointing to pick up litter throughout the year and in the short course of a couple weeks be back to square one.

It’s been remarked in some quarters that the University District looks like a disaster area. So, let’s test your skills of observation by letting you, the viewer, decide what debris field is a natural disaster and which one is the University District. Get your pencils ready!

Question: What photograph is in University District and what photograph is the aftermath of a federally declared major natural disaster?

IMG_0549                        A

DSCN3779a                        B



DSCN9357                        D





IMG_0572                        G


A  University District, Sohud, 2015

B  Seaside Heights, New Jersey, Super Storm Sandy, 2012

C  Seaside Heights, New Jersey, Super Storm Sandy, 2012

D  University District, Euclid Avenue, 2015

E   Fairfield, Connecticut, Super Storm Sandy, 2012

F   University District, Hamlet Street, 2015

G   University District, SoHud, 2015

Give yourself 1 point for each correct answer and zero points for each wrong answer.

7 points – Why aren’t you running for mayor?!

6 points – Ok, whoever got 7 points is going to appoint you director of development

5 points –  So the blue recycling bins gave a couple of them away

4 points –  You are average

3 points –  Have you thought about being on City Council?

2 points and below – To be fair, maybe you’re not from around here.

While it’s hard to predict the landing point of a hurricane years in advance the arrival of the students is somewhat more predictable. One might think that if the city and Ohio State cared at all about the neighborhood that they might try to mitigate the absolutely predictable disaster every year. Because there’s a big difference between a natural disaster and complete indifference..


Photo Credit: A and G, Bob Singleton. Used entirely without permission.



New houses as far as the eye can see on Grant Avenue. It’s become too hard to keep up with the sales. We’re in the twenty-something range sold since January. It wouldn’t be wise to dawdle if you’re thinking about buying one.


You can still make a park in the last hold-out of the old Short North. Located at 5th Street, where it’s still inexpensive enough to be creative.


Flowers on 5th Street


Flowers on 5th Street


New CoGo bike station at Weinland Park. Perfect for the WP self-guided park & flower tour. Hint: Go up 5th Street.

The Ohio Finance Housing Agency tax credit awards are out and Weinland Park is going to get a new building. The Community Housing Network will build a four-story building at Ninth Avenue and Section Alley as part of the South of Gateway development.

CHN brochure001

As stated in their proposal:

Terrace Place is a new construction project proposed by Community Housing Network, Inc.(CHN). The development will provide sixty (60) one bedroom apartments in an environment that supports recovery and housing retention to individuals who struggle with homelessness, mental illness and/or addiction. The building will be part of the South Gateway II project, a 7+ acres mixed use redevelopment that will have commercial space, market rate housing and student
housing. Terrace Place involves the demolition of CHN’s 1494 North High Street Apartments (a 36-unit PSH development) and transferring all current
residents, subsidies, and services to the new 60 unit building. The new site is located only two blocks east of 1494 North High Street..CHN also expects to house OSU Extension offices, which will offer services to the community and residents of Terrace Place. Forty-seven (47) units will be reserved for homeless and thirteen
(13) will be non-homeless. These thirteen units will be set aside for Franklin County Board ADAMH clients. Terrace Place will have 24-hour staffing and onsite supportive services.Concord Counseling is CHN’s service partner at 1494 North High Str
eet providing tenants with linkages to supportive services that include but
are not limited to on-going assessments, case
management, psychiatric services, medication monitoring, health services, employment
services, individual counseling and substance abuse treatment.
CHN will serve as Owner, Developer, and Property Manager
for Terrace Place. CHN hopes to close all financing for Terrace Place in July
2015 and complete construction before September 20.
In other news the NRP senior housing project at Grant and Fifth Avenue did not receive tax credits in this round. It was also not funded in the previous two rounds so it’s possible different development proposal may surface for this parcel.

Just about everyone knows now that Campus Partners bought the D & J Carryout on Fourth and Eighth. Now neighborhood speculation centers on what’s it going to be next. Since Campus Partners is going to sell the building to Community Properties of Ohio, the manager of the majority of Weinland Park’s Section 8 property speculation is skewed towards to the non-profit, social services side of the equation. Ideas, with no particular basis in fact so far, include CPO office space and a drop-in center. And while your local blogger is familiar with dropping out what one does after dropping in continues to be  a puzzle..

word cloudWhat do we want?

Let’s back up for some background. Part of the stated premise of making a  mixed income neighborhood, the experiment currently underway in Weinland Park, is to mix people from disparate social, racial, and economic backgrounds into a neighborhood that helps everyone not only understand each other but eventually foster the social relations that boost people out of poverty.

apartment fire 4 and 8

Just neighbors getting together and chatting

Currently, the place to meet the widest variety of neighbors and have an actual conversation with people unlike yourself is a neighborhood disaster such as a major fire or a barricade situation. People can compare notes, talk about what’s going on in the neighborhood etc. in a candid manner in a  non-institutional environment. It’s difficult for middle-class white residents to hang out at the  corner store because you’re immediately a fingered as undercover. African American residents can meet middle-class whites by attending one of the innumerable meetings held in Weinland Park.  But eating  what the Weinland Park elders refer to as “bird seed and Styrofoam,”  actually quinoa in real life, and watching middle-aged white guys come unglued only draws a crowd for so long and is of limited interest.


Coffee, patio, baby formula, craft beer, hair weaves.

So, why not make a place where everyone in the neighborhood can gather.  Many residents probably miss their corner store while many other residents would like a coffee shop or other retail establishment. So, why not combine the two concepts into a real live bodega that caters to the entire neighborhood. It’s not crazy to think, unless you don’t live in Weinland Park, that one could buy decent coffee and sit on the patio chatting with all your neighbors in front of the new D & J. A store that combined fresh food options with the requisite chips because who doesn’t need a bag of chips on occasion. A place to buy baby formula at non-predatory prices. A place that provides jobs for neighborhood kids and maybe even sells penny candy. Imagine a place that catered to the entire neighborhood and not just a segment. It only seems crazy to have a place that carries craft beer and hair weaves if you don’t live here. If you do, it makes perfect sense.


It’s not in Weinland Park but it could be…


So, you live next door to a nice little American Foursquare that needs a some work. Maybe someone will buy it and fix it up? Fingers crossed for nice neighbors.

DSCN5556And so someone buys the house and then adds a whole other house on the back so it goes from 3 bedrooms to 7 or 8 bedrooms. Of course, the owners aren’t going to live there. It would be too noisy and there’s no place to park. Not to mention the yard/parking lot will not be that attractive.

DSCN5555This type of thing wouldn’t fly in Italian Village or Victorian Village but it’s perfectly legal in the University District. This house is at 404 Wyandotte.  As the crow flies it is farther from the front door of the Ohio State Main Library than the Godman Guild.

DSCN5557The new neighbors will need 5 or 6 new parking spots so move your car and getting ready to bake a pie. Make that 8 pies.

And don’t forget to attend the University District planning meetings because until this is illegal it could happen next door to you too.


Houses whose size has been recently doubled on Indiana Avenue north of Weinland Park

Your local blogger recently read The Columbus Zoning Plan, a pamphlet published by the the Columbus City Planning Commission that advocated the implementation of zoning in 1923. The aim of the publication is to convince the good Columbus citizen of 1923 that zoning is good. It’s also incredibly timely considering the debate about student rental housing in the University District.  The pamphlet contains a number of common experiences and travails of the 1920s homeowner. Of course, replacing “apartment house” with “people-packing student rental” makes the story slightly more timely. One aspect not mentioned in the pamphlet is that Mr. Smith should have known what was going to happen or rather what did he expect when he moved to that neighborhood. That train of thought appears to be a later development. Instead, the city throws its lot in with the homeowner and not the investor.

Mr. Smith purchased a house in an attractive neighborhood. All the houses have large well-kept lawns. Mr. Smith believes that children, like plants, must have plenty of sunlight and room to grow. The location seems an ideal one in which to live and raise his family. But there is a vacant lot next door. A speculative builder estimates he can buy that lot, erect a four-story, sixteen suite apartment house thereon, rent the apartments, sell to some investor, and clean-up a handsome profit for himself. The apartment is erected, quickly rented and sold. It rents well because it is in a section of private homes and has the benefit of lawns and open spaces about the adjoining houses.

11th alley

It could never happen in Weinland Park

But the value of Mr. Smith’s house is practically destroyed. His light and air are cut off by the huge bulk of the apartment house. The quiet and comfort of the entire block for private residence purposes has been largely destroyed. Each home owner fears that a similar apartment building may be constructed next door to him. Those who can sell out or move away and rent their home for any purpose or use that offers. Apartment houses are needed but is it necessary to permit them the scatter indiscriminately throughout the private home section? If Columbus is to be preserved as a city of homes we must protect the homeowner by establishing definite limits beyond which the apartment house may not spread.

cartoon zoning

Coming to a suburb near you – not really, they have zoning that protects homeowners.

It’s somewhat incredible to think that after 90 years later the same debate could be taking place in the University District. However, none of the major players in the student rental market live in the University District let alone in Weinland Park. Instead, they all live in suburbs that have strict zoning and code enforcement that protects them from neighbors paving their backyards for parking or doubling the size of a house for a student rental. And quite a few of our local commissioners feel that property rights shouldn’t be restricted at all, as long as they don’t have to live near a problem. It kind of makes you wonder what we’re missing here. One would think that building controls, or god-forbid, down zoning, would work here too, right?

milk plant

We’re just trying to help the neighborhood.

It’s impressive how long the “we’re just trying to help improve the neighborhood” narrative has been around.

Coincidentally, the city planning department is in the midst of rethinking these issues and there’s a survey to identify problems and give your opinion.



Don’t worry about the sky, Toto, all the houses have basements.

It’s time for the next round of market rate housing in Weinland Park.* Located across the street from the former Columbus Coated Fabric site the new build houses are named Grant Park to disassociate the development with its nearby industrial past. Your local blogger isn’t really sure this is necessary since Columbus Coated Fabrics rolls off the tongue much better than the previous names for Wagenbrenner’s other brownfield development, Harrison West, which was known alternatively as, “the old butter factory where the ground was so grease-soaked that rats could subsist on the topsoil,” or “the place where they made the cream for Twinkies.” Whether either of these is true is a subject of debate. But it makes Coated Fabric sound positively quaint and domestic. Of course, all that greasy stuff was cleaned up long ago so if you live in Harrison West don’t worry about an open flame in the backyard.


Ample front porches.

There will be three models available and all will have a finished basement available, two car garage in most instances on a 28 ft x  98 ft. to 114 ft. lot.  Other options are being bandied about are LEED features and bioswales/water gardens depending on market response. Brick exteriors are also being explored. Construction starts in the fall at 6th and Grant and the houses, four in the beginning,  will be available in the spring.


There will also be innumerable color choices, actually 18, and the opportunity to jigger about the facade if one feels strongly about how things look in your rear view mirror.


Prices points are currently thought to be in the low $200,000 range. Grant Avenue is platted for 38 houses so in the end it will look much like Harrison West with a mixture of single family homes and fee-simple townhomes, currently thought to be priced less than the houses, located on the actual Coated Fabric Grant Park site. There will even be a park too although unfortunately Mt. Wagenbrenner is slated to disappear soon. So think of it as Harrison West at the half the price. And it’s closer to the center of the Short North. If you live in Harrison West it’s 4424 feet to the Rossi but if you live in Grant Park it’s only 3600 feet. That’s more time eating and drinking and less time hiking  – because god knows there’s no place to park there now.


Yes, you can live here too.

*The first foray into Weinland Park market rate housing is this soon-to-be completely renovated c. 1908 American Foursquare located on Hamlet near 7th Avenue. It will also be available in the spring. Close to the park and surrounded by mostly owner-occupied, single-family homes with pleasant neighbors on a tree-lined street. In addition, there are a number of vacant lots in Weinland Park where Wagenbrenner can build you a single family home like those pictured above. Interested? email Mike Amicon at mamicon (at) wagco.com for more info.

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