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Kroger is mean-spirited.

It appears that the Short North Kroger has introduced a grocery cart that won’t leave the parking lot. On occasion Weinland Park residents would notice a cart or two in the neighborhood tree lawns and there was guy who would come around and pick them up. A couple weeks ago your local blogger talked with the guy who used to drive around Weinland Park and pick up the carts from the Kroger’s store.  Besides being a super nice the guy it was also a pretty interesting conversation. He’d pick up about 40 carts a day in the neighborhood for the first two weeks of the month and then it would taper off sharply. For the rest of the month he’d just go around every other day and get the carts. Then the monthly cycle would start over around the first of the month.

Since the definition of a food desert is not having access to vegetables and other healthy foods the new cart set up goes a long way in making Weinland Park a food desert for those who don’t have many transportation options. Carrying a load of fruits and vegetables across Weinland Park is not a treat. And obviously some people who take their carts home are on some type of food assistance given the weekly variation in the number of carts out there at any given time. It just adds another burden to our less fortunate neighbors. Not to mention the irony of spending almost a million dollars on solving the Weinland Park food desert problem and then removing the method of transporting fruits and vegetables for those most affected is too rich. So, if you were irked about the carts in the neighborhood feel free to help someone carry their groceries home. They might need the help.

wp plan

I’m bored. Let’s plan something.

Planning. It’s the primary activity in Weinland Park. We do a lot of planning. If you like plans or making plans, word clouds, or buzz words then Weinland Park is for you.

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Love the building but how did we get here?

For instance, once upon a time a nice man came to the Weinland Park Community  Civic Association and presented a proposal. There was a grant he could apply for if the WPCCA would support it.  He told us that Weinland Park was a “food desert” where fresh and nutritious foods, especially vegetables were unobtainable. While there was some speculation about whether he knew about the existence of the Kroger’s store the WPCCA said, “yeah, whatever, you go get that grant.”  Your local blogger was there and fully expected to really never hear from him again. There was some neighborhood poking and giggling about the “food desert” and then we all went to Kroger’s for some organic kale to make those green smoothies that are so popular. At that time in 2010, when revitalization was heating up there was really no shortage of people peddling plans – there’s nothing like federal, state, and philanthropic dollars to attract people with plans and ideas of how to spend the money.

Much to everyone’s surprise MORPC actually got the HUD planning grant for $843,986 and the planning process began. Like most things in Weinland Park no opportunity to spend money goes without an expository video featuring soothing music and Tarkovsky-esque pan shots of broken windows. Sometimes it’s like a negative political campaign ad except the evil opposing candidate is the neighborhood itself epitomized by a burned out house, a convenience store or a chain link fence close-up. These must be things that make middle-class white people reach for the checkbook.

It’s really just a matter of time before the Sarah McLachlan Weinland-Park-is-where-kittens-go to-die video comes out.  The new Kroger’s store is never, ever in the video.  In most cases, this is also the projects end result. Weinland Park’s leading industry often seems to be the production of these videos closely followed by opportunities to pick up trash and class projects.

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What do the people want – vegetables?

This was followed by series of HUD mandated public meetings where residents, architects, and planners were supposed to figure out ways to roll back the food desert. However, in the meetings it became apparent that healthy and nutritious foods was not at the top of the neighborhood list. What the people of Weinland Park really wanted was a community center and jobs for the youth plus a sampling of almost anything else one could think of but vegetables were pretty low on the list. This presented a conundrum for the food desert people. So, community meeting spaces and jobs went to the forefront and food was just a vehicle to get there. But when neighborhood people figured out that the whole process was just for grant-funded planning and the associated class projects the gloss came off fairly quickly. This was especially true when residents were informed that the food district would be built when we got the money for it.*  Somewhere in the long line of planning meetings that no one from Weinland Park bothered to attend any more food processing became the cause-du-jour. Because why would you go to a meeting where everyone but you was paid from grant money to make a for a plan for something that wasn’t funded to built? And that wouldn’t be built unless a neighborhood where 57% of residents who live in poverty find millions of dollars. It’s fair to say that skepticism about the project was great and resident participation fatigue reached a high point.

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Will funding lightning strike the same place twice?

So what does Weinland Park get for $843,986? A lot of class projects at Ohio State and the University of Cincinnati, meetings, videos and presumably drawings although no one in Weinland Park seems to have seen any yet.**  If memory serves only one resident was actually paid to participate, briefly, so the money really didn’t revitalize the neighborhood. It did help revitalize a lot of architects, designers, planners and non-profits. If there was a Weinland Park job for every Weinland Park project line on a resume the neighborhood would be bustling. Until then we just have to come up with what has been estimated at between at least 1.3 million and 7 million dollars. Then we can make a food district. In the meantime, we’ll just keep going to meetings and being in videos.

*Residents have smartened up since then. Woe is the person who shows up with a plan and no funding source.

**Your local blogger finds it irksome that after attending numerous interminable meetings that he first sees the drawings in Business First.

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The landlord doesn’t think there’s a problem.

This afternoon was the first drive-by shooting in a while in the WP.  Someone took about four shots at the occupants of 1328 N. 4th Street.  WP residents know that this house has been a problem for a while. A large fight involving the tenants and some people from south side closed N. 4th a while back. More  recently some other non-fans of the house shot up the back of the house in what can only be termed as a hail of gunfire as heard by your local blogger.

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WP residents have been complaining about the house to our liaison officer, who is very sympathetic but until you catch them in the act there’s not much the police can do.

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Look for it on the news

The media made record time in showing up for a drive-by shooting at 1:30 in the afternoon next to an elementary school.  This type of thing is not going to help home sales.

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Closed for rush hour – thanks dude

Since there are shell casings all over the middle of N. 4th Street it’s closed and all the normal traffic is being diverted up Hamlet St. Fortunately, it’s so jammed up people can’t go very fast.

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The landlord himself actually lives in what appears to be a fairly posh apartment complex near Worthington. It’s nice the neighborhood is able to put him up in such comfort. Too bad it’s becoming such a bother for us.

BIG EDIT: your local blogger has discovered that there are two people with the exact name, including middle, as the owner of the house where the shooting took place. So, as to not to unfairly malign someone who doesn’t own the rental house with the wrong picture of the owners house the original picture here has been removed. The blog extends its apologies to the owners of the original house if anyone asked them how their crack house was doing…

Stay tuned though your local blogger is quite sure about the owners in the rest of the series.

“Where do they live?” is a continuing series about people who live in nice quiet neighborhoods while profiting from the occasional mayhem in Weinland Park.

hamlet house

New renovation

Coming onto the market soon is this market-rate renovation on Hamlet Street near 7th Avenue. The current problem in Weinland Park is that many prospective home buyers make too much money to buy houses that were renovated with Neighborhood Stabilization Program money. This 1,948 square foot renovated American Foursquare close to the park comes with mature trees and is has a good percentage of owner occupied neighboring houses nearby. A garage will also presumably be added.

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Next up: urban landscaping

The NSP houses on Hamlet and 8th are essentially completed except for the urban landscaping by Integrity Sustainable Planning in the front yards that will be installed soon. They will feature:

Front Yard Rain Gardens: that will direct roof run off into appropriately sized, slightly depressed planted bed areas filled with a permeable gravel/soil mix that will absorb the runoff, reduce the flow of site water into storm drains and minimize erosion, water pollution, flooding and diminished groundwater. A selection of native plants will be used for their tolerance of a seasonally wet environment, absorption of water and for their ability to attract local wildlife such as native birds. These showy shrubs and flowering perennials will offer a beautiful street-side view and will provide increased water infiltration capacity.

Curbside Rain Gardens: will collect and filter storm water from the sidewalks. Located between the curb and sidewalk they will feature lush street side plantings installed in a below grade permeable gravel/soil mixture used to maximize the absorption of water and trapping pollutants and silt.

Two houses are in contract and three are still left, although they may not be on the market yet, for those who make 120% or less of Area Median Income.  Call Mike Amicon 614.545.3677 for more information on all the Hamlet houses.

DSCN4886Historic tax credits in place and construction is about to begin.

In other news, the historic renovations on the apartments and rowhouses on 11th Ave should start in July or August. The street scape on 11th Avenue will also be renovated by the city along with the street scape on 5th Avenue including new street lights and various plantings.

DSCN4890Received tax credits for continued affordable housing on 5th Avenue.

The Hamlet, the 1915 rock faced block apartment building on 5th and Hamlet received Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) in the most recent round of tax credit applications. The units are already affordable housing and will remain so.  The units will be renovated by Homeport as the families voluntarily move out.

 

DSCN4887Will continue as urban prairie – site of the proposed LITHC senior housing.

The proposed LITHC senior housing project on Grant and 5th Avenue was not funded this year. Since it is not unusual to be denied the credits on the first application it is probable that Wagenbrenner and the NRP Group will try again next year.

Gather round urban enthusiasts – it’s planning time!

why now

The University Area Planning process begins in the fall to make a new comprehensive plan for the district. It will incorporate all the previous plans into one document although the focus will be on density, design guidelines, and parking.

working

It’s common knowledge that the pesky public just messes up the planning process.

The University Area Commission Planning Committee and city planners are forming a working group to guide the planning process. Unlike other area commissions the University area commission has a good percentage of appointed members. The commission currently has 11 elected resident commissioners and 7 appointed commissioners, three of which are residents. Appointed commissioners include three from Ohio State, two campus landlords and some members of amorphous organizations such as the University Community Association whose main function seems to be holding a popular annual ice cream social. Consequently, and perhaps quite coincidental, the Ohio State University representative, who is a planner, is running the University Area planning process. Other members of the working group include campus landlords, more people from the amorphous groups, the University Area Review Board and so far, one resident from Weinland Park. It seems that other residents may be added from other parts of the University area too as well as business owners and other “stakeholders.”

outcomes

Having actual design guidelines instead of appearance review would be a welcome step.

11th in JuneBeauty is in the eye of the beholder – the product of appearance review.

Charitably, it could have been much worse. The UARB had the dormer moved back slightly, double-hung windows instead of sliders. Conversely, it could also be much better. Having actual design guidelines like Italian Village and Victorian Village would help stabilize the neighborhood but it would make life difficult for campus landlords trying to squeeze a dime out of every possible square foot.

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Indianola and 7th Avenue – Good development or time for a moratorium?

An accelerating problem in the University District in the conversion of single family homes into what are still called single family homes but just with 8 or more bedrooms. This has become a real problem in the SoHud area around Indiana and Wyandotte. It is also becoming somewhat of a problem in parts of Weinland Park.   An idea growing in popularity is a moratorium on this type of renovation achieved by not issuing building permits for the expansion of residential building footprints or expanded floor area ratios in the University area until the planning process sorts this out. Whether the UAC  and City Council will sit on their hands or not and watch this inappropriate development continue  is the question of the month. Since the city sometimes feels that any development is good development. It’s going to be interesting. Stay tuned.

Update June 19th

The UAC voted to send a letter to City Council to support a moratorium on expanding the building footprints of single-family homes more than 10% or 200 square feet in the University District while the planning process explores the issue.

Feel free to comment!

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The house on 5th Street and 8th Avenue was vacant so no one was hurt but it did have a beautiful porch and 12 light windows all around. Perhaps if there was a better appreciation for historic houses.

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It seemed like every fire truck in the city turned out. And remember if you see anyone who ought not be around a vacant structure to call the police.

1439 sixth st

Sometimes houses can be well known for a couple historical events. This weeks serendipitous candidate is 1439 North Sixth Street. It’s involved with the 1920s real estate boom and developer Charles Johnson, Columbus civil rights and the recent COTA shooting.  The 1922 house, and its sister house at 1435 N. 6th were built by Abel Hildreth  in the Indianola Subdivision. The plat is the same plat and building period  as the New Indianola Historic District. Hildreth purchased the empty lots, originally platted by Johnson, and most likely built the houses as a speculative investment. Both were sold immediately sold and their appraised value nearly doubled by 1924. The lot that was valued at $470 in 1920 was worth $5200 with the addition of a $3000 house in 1924 – the top of 1920s market in central Ohio.

In 1947, Richard and Viola Lynch purchased the property. Richard Lynch was a reporter for the Columbus Dispatch and Viola Lynch was trained as a teacher. Although college educated, the segregative nature of Columbus housing in 1947 severely limited where they could live and in Weinland Park that meant east of North Fourth.  Viola Lynch was active in the local NAACP chapter and in 1961 was part of a committee that urged local businesses such as Big Bear, Wonder Bread, and Kroger to hire African American employees. Lynch’s committee went to each business and thanked them for hiring blacks. In 1961, this would have served two purposes. Firstly, to actually thank them but secondly to continue to pressure the employers to continue to hire blacks as the businesses often practiced tokenism. The businesses would point out that their lone black employee proved they were not prejudiced. The trick for the local NAACP was to get the employer to hire more than one or two African Americans at jobs that were not completely menial in nature. The local NAACP did accomplish this and by 1961 the Big Bear chain, the final grocery store holdout,  hired an African American women cashier where previously the only jobs available were as janitors. Huntington Bank hired their first African American tellers in the same year becoming the second bank in Columbus to do so.

Unfortunately, now the house is famous for being the home of Anthony Saunders, the suspected COTA bus shooter. So, if you see him call the police as he is still at large. And hopefully the house will become famous again for something more uplifting.

saunders

Update: He’s turned himself in to the police.

Did you know? Forty percent of teenagers arrested in Weinland Park are not from Weinland Park.

good deeds

It’s not Publisher’s Clearing House; it’s just nice neighbors being nice.

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In a story lifted directly from the Weinland Park newsletter we see that there is still a little good in the world and twice as much in Weinland Park. Obviously, one bad person got the savings bonds but two different groups of people at different times found them on the street and turned them in to the proper authorities.

If you feel like sharing in the good karma of the WP the next trash pick-up is on April 6th at 10:00 A.M. The group meets at the shelter house in Weinland Park. While we can’t guarantee that you’ll end up on the front page of the newsletter we can guarantee donuts. See you there!

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