This is the common refrain when discussing pretty much anything historic in Weinland Park. Consequently, many feel that the best solution is to tear down anything that’s old, or more commonly, once filled with poor people and never maintained must mean it’s worthless and a clear cause of generational poverty.

However, for the part of the neighborhood that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places here’s your answer, skip to page 6 to get right to the “why” portion.

New Indianola H.D._National Register
The district is notable not just for its architectural and community planning aspects but also for the social change that it brought to the neighborhood. Largely working class before the development the rental stock introduced the middle class into the immediate area creating a diverse mixed income area with residents who took the streetcar downtown to work. Sound familiar?

What might have been.

However, Weinland Park, without a streetcar through the area, an idea pronounced dead for the foreseeable future, still attracts autocentric development due to the fact that 11th Avenue connects to Interstate 71 despite the fact that it is the most walkable neighborhood in Columbus

The South Campus Gateway is a self-described regional destination. You get off Interstate 71 at 11th Avenue park in the garage and voila – movie and ice cream time. It is designed for cars, 1200 parking spaces, and visitors from outside the neighborhood as well as students. You can walk there from anywhere in Weinland Park but that’s not really the idea, or the intended target audience.

So what happens next is the big question.  An assessment of the buildings on 11th Avenue between Grant and North Fourth is underway to help determine the next move. At this point the question is how closely is the Weinland Park plan adhered to in the future? Let’s imagine the Historic Resources Commission, which would have to sign off on any demolition, doesn’t exist and the portion along 11th disappeared tomorrow. How would new development be integrated into the neighborhood? Let’s speculate based on previous experience.*

The back of the South Campus Gateway-not exactly an inviting seamless transition.

So there’s a neighborhood side and the rear of a mixed use development. It’s not very inviting.  Mixed use development that was built according to the Weinland Park plan along 11th Avenue might resemble something like this. It would be an interesting dichotomy, new development from the front catering to a regional and presumably somewhat affluent audience and utilities and service entrances in rear facing a mixed race and and income neighborhood. How to successfully integrate the neighborhood into the design is going to be challenge, or not? Will the neighborhood be welcome,  or is it meant to be a  pass-through to the Gateway?

So, if the black lines indicate parking and services entrances, similar to the photo above the neighborhood is essentially cut off from 11th Avenue and parts of High Street, economically, and most likely racially.

In fact, the Weinland Park plans autocentric focus could damage one of the nicest attributes of the neighborhood, the walkability, by lopping off the area above 11th Avenue.** Even more interesting is that it could make 11th Avenue an economically homogeneous mixed use complex shielding any regional destination visitors from Weinland Park proper, unless you make a wrong turn.In this scenario it’s quite possible that the only black man a regional visitor would see after exiting the freeway would be on the Ohio Stadium field.

In any case almost anything concerning 11th Avenue is going to bring marked changes to the neighborhood. The question is what is the focus of re-development going to be and will it help or hurt the overall character of the neighborhood. Seamless transition from historic residential to whatever comes next and incorporating the neighborhood and its charming historic character is the challenge. Restored or adaptive residential,  commercial development or all of the above?

Rear of 11th Avenue: The 1925 Columbus playground of the young professional

The rear of the 11th Avenue row houses – Highest and best use vs Historic. Can they be combined with good design for a neighborhood win? And will they be used to help jump start the neighborhood or make another regional destination?

*Remember that whole spiel about previous returns and future performance – this portion, like your investment prospectus, is total speculation. Things could be completely different but like your broker your local blogger will take all the credit if he is right. If not, I told you so here.

**Conversely if there is a concerted move by Ohio State to the west, and the current master plan advocates this, and the student housing market tanks being completely cut off from the University District and more closely tied to Italian Village could only be a bonus. Who knows?