A common scene from 2008

According to The Other Paper the Weinland Park gold rush is on, or about to start anyway. Unfortunately, The Thirdhand Bicycle Co-op has lost its lease at Fifth and Hamlet. More unfortunately, they are unable to find a new space in the neighborhood due to gentrification.*


Gentrification is a pretty easy and undefinable word to throw around but usually conjures up images of the urban poor getting taken advantage of by outsiders. But let’s look at the numbers. Third Hand rented 2000 square feet of retail and warehouse for $450 a month. In real estate parlance that’s $2.70 a square foot. According to Colliers the average rate in the Columbus metropolitan area is around $12.00 a square foot for retail. And retail with warehouse space goes for around 8.00 a square foot on Craigslist. “Well” you might say, “you’d have to kill someone to get a square footage rate that low”. And you’d be exactly right. One factor in the increase in rental rates in Weinland Park is that the neighborhood is getting safer. In some ways it’s a semantics and a cost benefit analysis issue.

Rent Control?

The Other Paper calls it gentrification but your local blogger contends that there were fewer crimes last year. But who benefits and who pays from low commercial rent? Is the rent cheap because the location is bad? No. It’s cheap because the neighborhood is perceived as bad. And occasionally someone gets shot which only reinforces the stereotype which keeps the rent low. But higher crime increases car and home insurance costs for home owners and renters who live in the neighborhood. So there’s a trade-off. Low commercial rents are, in a way, subsidized by neighborhood residents in either blood, higher costs for insurance, security, theft, mental well-being, quality of life etc., or often all of these. Is it gentrification to expect not to be robbed, assaulted, or generally live in fear because in reality all of these issues go together. And who is being taken advantage of when commercial rent increases because the neighborhood quality of life improves? And who really pays when commercial rent is low and should it be kept low? After all, low commercial rent does provide some of the neighborhood diversity. But many of the commercial space renters in Weinland Park live outside the neighborhood and therefore reap the benefits but don’t have to pay all the costs.  In many ways Weinland Park has been and continues to be the land of subsidies but who wins and who loses?

*The Other Paper’s term. The other problem is there is simply not that much commercial space, especially warehouse, in Weinland Park. It’s a residential neighborhood but hopefully Thirdhand can round something up.