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Clintonville Rejects Mixed-Use Development

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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This Week News is reporting that the Clintonville Area Commission rejected a proposal last week that called for a four-story building at the corner of High Street and California Avenue. The building would contain 6,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and 26 apartment units on the floors above it. Commissioners and Clintonville residents who are opposed to the project stated concerns about lowered property values, a reduction of their “sky view” and parking issues. The full article can be read here.

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  • If anyone needed proof that Clintonville doesn’t live up to it’s progressive facade, well here you go. And of course, there was no such vocal opposition for existing sprawl along High St. Here’s the “view” (look to the left for the McDonalds).


    And where did they get the bogus notion that mixed-use=lower property values?

  • I don’t think a 4 story structure along High at that corner, that appears to be two separate buildings, would overpower the surroundings. I do think its a tough spot to hand out parking variances with the current apartment density West of High.
    I find the argument that, “any reduction in the “sky view” of nearby residents would reduce the value of their properties,” interesting.

    While you may own the airspace above your land, there is no guarantee of a view when you buy your property.

  • man. seems like kind-of a bummer. Parking can get tricky, so if they didn’t have a good plan for that in place, I can see the opposition. The rest seems silly. Unless only 3 people showed up at the meeting and all 3 had their ‘sky view’ blocked.

  • Pablo

    @Columbusite – I’m not sure what the rejection of a mixed use project has anything to do with a neighborhood’s political leanings. 

    Sounds like the developer didn’t sell the project to the community.  Some people like multi-story buildings, others don’t.  I have not seen the renderings – maybe the buidling was just plain ugly.  I think most of the east side of High could easily support 3-4 story buildings and that the grade helps to hide the building mass from the neighborhood to the east.

  • @ JoePeffer. Actually you can guarantee your view through a viewshed protection ordinance or district. It protects your historic or scenic rural view. Napa Valley has one. But I don’t think Clintonville has one. I think it might be a stretch to make a vacant lot on High St. one too but it’s their neighborhood and more power to them for it.

    However, I always enjoy Jonathan Barnes designs and if he and Mr. DeVere are dying to build something I’d like to suggest the corner of 4th and 5th where that nasty-ass state liquor store is located. Weinland Park needs a better view.

  • lizless

    Super disappointing.

  • I’m going to hope that this project isn’t completely off the table. It sounds like a bit of community outreach might be in order to sell it to them, but I can’t imagine it’s completely a no-go at this point.

    The lowered property values comment is downright laughable though. Neighborhoods that are walkable,dense, and well maintained generally have higher-than-average property values. If anything, the neighbors should be more likely to complain that adding this development will increase their property values and potentially their property taxes. But depending on what sort of retail goes in, it should increase their quality of life in the neighborhood to match.

  • columbusdreamer

    i m taking the news pretty hard. Sky views?  sky views?

  • zp945

    This is at the end of my street and I have been waiting for someone, anyone to develop it.  Does a vacant lot help home values in some way?

    Clintonville is a great neighborhood with a lot going for it but decisions like this will only slow down the momentum.  I had no idea this was even under consideration.  Now that I do hopefully I can do something to change peoples minds.

  • mstimple

    Seems like a lot of NIMBYism to me.  I second Rory’s idea.  My “sky view” would be enhanced greatly if something like this were at 4th and 5th.  Come on over developers.

  • Knowing and living in the area – a few tweaks are needed to get the community on board.  The apartment to parking ratio (1 space per apartment is not good for the surrounding area, especially if the spaces are smaller) is not good and needs to change.  The retail is a good concept but I would like to see a restaurant slot in there as well (with a liquor license).  Four stories just does not work in that area (think of the obnoxious high building at Grandview and 3rd), three stories might work with a good design.  Add in a bit more green space and he has it.  Or he can move down to High and East North Broadway and do the same concept with less grief.

  • I couldn’t disagree with you more, Jim. Abundant parking is not necessary to make a development like this (or a neighborhood in general) great. And four stories is hardly obnoxious either here or in Grandview or any other urban neighborhood. Or at least you’re the first person I’ve ever heard refer to something of such a small height in such an overly drastic way.

  • I love the building on Grandview and 3rd. Go to any other major city and you will see many many building like that in metro neighborhoods that surround the city core.

    It reminds me of some of the neighborhoods in Seattle like Fremont or Ballard.

    Grandview should aspire to be like those neighborhoods.

  • For this Census Tract, the 2000 Census shows an average of 1.8 cars per owner-occupied housing unit and 1.5 cars per renter-occupied housing unit.  Of course that number may have changed since 2000 and it could vary by size of the housing unit.  Nevertheless, if the 1.5 number is accurate, there might be something like 39 cars for the 26 apartments.  If there are 26 spaces, then there would be 13 cars left over.  Could they park on side streets?  Could we reduce the demand for parking/auto ownership at all?  Is there adequate bike parking included in the building?  What if the developer bought every buyer a transit pass for one year?  What if there was a ZipCar included in the lot?  Just some ideas.

  • Urbanboi

    Parking is an issue that intercity Columbus is going to have to learn to deal with. One spot per apartment is pleanty!I know we are not Chicago but alot of the apartments and condos in Chicago dont even offer a parking space with the unit. Columbus should welcome and development that is brough to the table.

  • johnwirtz Says: For this Census Tract, the 2000 Census shows an average of 1.8 cars per owner-occupied housing unit and 1.5 cars per renter-occupied housing unit.

    You bring up a really interesting point. Initially it would seem as if the parking would be inadequate based on those numbers, but I can’t help but wonder if those numbers are a result existing parking conditions or specific lifestyles of the folks who already live in the neighborhood.

    I think that if this development moves forward with one spot allowed per apartment unit, then it’s going to attract a different demographic than the average one that already exists in the neighborhood. If owning 2 cars is essential, a potential tenant is going to pass this apartment up for somewhere else. If owning 1 car works, then a potential tenant will consider living here.

    I don’t know if the existing neighborhood figures necessarily mean that this new development has to fit the needs of the folks who live nearby. They’re not the ones who are going to be living here, right?

  • High St. here is even wider than it is in the Short North where they are building 8 stories high (and hopefully more in the future), yet people are complaining that 4 stories is too tall on the main urban strip in one of the nation’s largest cities? This kind of NIMBYism is clearly anti-progressive/liberal. It’s an extremely insular, conservative attitude to say, “Who cares about what’s good for the neighborhood? My view of the McDonalds drivethru is at stake!”.

  • Analogue Kid

    I happen to know two people who live on that street. They’re both kind of “old guard” Clintonville types if you will. They grew up in the neighborhood and have lived there pretty much their whole lives. Given that a 4 story building is a dramatic change, at least to them, I’m not surprised to see the opposition.

  • The neighborhood folks might not be the ones living there but this development will have an impact on the surrounding neighbors. Parking in these parts of Clintonville, like the Short North, is a big issue. Many of the houses do not have dedicated driveways/parking areas and the residents park on the streets. If you have ever been up some of these streets in the winter, it can be downright a dangerous proposition. Especially, since the city leaves these hilly streets unplowed most of the time. Some of these folks that are fighting it are looking at the other developments that have promised to have enough parking for their needs but it never seems to be enough. I live next to the Cup O’ Joe and on busy evenings, Tulane can become a bumper car track. Cars are parked bumper to bumper through most parts of lower Clintonville.
    I would love more good development of this area, especially this section of High Street between Weber to Broadway. It needs to a little sprucing up. By the way, these “insular conservatives” have been fighting that McDonalds for a number of years. But doing this smartly is what is needed. I love walking our neighborhood here, we love having C O J, Lavash, Giorgio, Aladdins, the Co-Op market, even Giant Bear all within walking distance. But because of my work and my wife’s work, we have to own two cars.
    In San Diego, all new build apartment/condo buildings since the 80’s have underground parking garages. Why isn’t this something we can’t consider for these types of developments in Columbus? It always seems to be “where do we put the parking lot?”

  • Wouldn’t underground parking really drive up the construction costs? Plus if there is redevelopment over time of parts of Clintonville with high-density housing and parking garages all those cars have to battle down Summit and North Fourth to get downtown and that just exacerbates the traffic problems in the University District, Italian Village, and Weinland Park. Interestingly, we’ve gotten to the point where parking becomes the deciding factor for development. Maybe it’s really time for a streetcar. Leave cars out of the equation.

  • Walker,
    You’re totally right.  I was mostly trying to point out that even the status quo doesn’t require 2 spaces per apartment.  If Clintonville wants to become more urban (and it doesn’t seem that they do), then design for less parking.  If you design for every household to have 1.5 or 2 cars, then every household will have 1.5 or 2 cars.  If you design for less, they might own less.  It’s really the developer’s risk if he wants to try to market an apartment with only one parking space or without parking at all.

    I thought of another idea that could help reduce the parking needs at this location (or any other).  Sell or rent the parking spaces separate from the condo or apartment.  If people have to pay $40 a month extra for a parking spot, they might decide they try living without a car.  I guess the risk is that the residents will just decide to park a car elsewhere for free and congest the parking on streets like California.

  • @Undertaker,
    I’m guessing underground parking would make the units too expensive for the market prices in Columbus.  San Diego has higher housing costs.

  • Pablo

    According to The Booster the project isn’t dead:

    The developer didn’t present any architectural renderings nor did he approach neighbors – he just asked for parking variances.  The zoning committe vote was evenly split but was rejected by the whole commision.  A commisioner is quoted as saying “The variances don’t scare me,” District 1 Representative Mike McLaughlin said. “The lack of communication with the neighbors does.”  So, it seems a little shmoozing is in order. 

    Also, the developer was asking for approval of a project that wasn’t designed yet.  I can understand the commissions no vote.  I wouldn’t buy a car sight unseen.  I can also understand the developers need for approval – why spend money to design a building when you don’t know if it’s possible to get a parking variance that make the project work financially.

    @Columbusite – Again, how does the initial rejection of variences suggest the neighborhood isn’t liberal?  Hell, I know liberals who would fight any development regardless of the type.

  • mattchew

    I always thought Clintonville was a nice suburb, but kind of generic. I dont know what all the fuss is about “sky view” and lowering property values. Is this part of Old(e) North Columbus?

  • I’m sure their fear of sky views and shadows is reasonable.
    Occluding the sun would cause longer more harsh winters.  Each year the winter taking longer due to the reflection off the snow.

    It could cause another ice age.

  • futureman

    Anyone recall the 7 story building that was planned on Grandview Ave, across from Grandview Theater? I recall resident were very much against it and it got halved in size and now looks like it’s on hold due the economy. I read that it was going to have underground parking and retail on the first floor. I don’t think it ever got behind the initial concept phase though.

    In regards to negative comments about the condo building at 3rd and Grandview I think it would have it would look much better if they actually buried the power lines and redid the traffic lights. I really like how it looks, it just a shame you have power lines blocking a lot of the views. Also, It’ll look less out of place once the Kingswood building that burned down last February/January(?) is replaced with the new 4 story complex.

  • Walker and John hit he nail on the head and that is if the neighborhood wants less cars taking up lots of space they’re going to need to design development that doesn’t bend over backwards for cars. People who choose to live on High St choose to do so for a reason and it’s not because it’s on a quiet residential street with plentiful parking. In fact, I always see lots of empty parking spaces on High St. all the time in the southern half of Clintonville. If they’re desperate enough, why not turn some of those spots nearby into permit parking? Better yet, enact permit parking on the residential streets.

    @Pablo – Did you read the neighbors’ responses? They were whining about their “sky view”, put forward a bogus argument about lower property values from mixed-use development , they think 4 stories is “too tall” on the urban main street in a large city, and don’t realize they have a driving problem, not a parking problem. If there’s no place to park their car they can buy a scooter or motorcycle or bike or even a tiny smart car. You don’t have to drive everywhere, you choose to do so.

    @mattechew – No, Clintonville is most certainly not a part of Old North Columbus, which is far superior in many ways. Actually, if the developer happens to be reading this, Old North Columbus just to the south would most likely welcome this development which is too dense for Clintonville.

  • Clintonville Resident

    The concern is not the mixed use development, it’s the density. The developer is trying to push through 26 residential units plus 6,000 sq ft of retail space all on 0.5 acres. This will result in the tallest building in Clintonville with inadequate infrastructure. ALL access will be through a very small alley with overflow to a street that is already close to capacity. Once again, the issue is not with the concept but the density. It is way too big for the property with no consideration to the surrounding area. The developer is purposely trying to slide it by the community because he knows it is not the appropriate design for the land in question.

    -The “sky view” was never brought up by the nearby residents.
    -There has been no community outreach from the developer.  In fact, it’s been very difficult to get any good information on such short notice. And I’ve been to all the meetings.
    -Parking is only a small part of the lack of infrastructure for this development. There are serious safty concerns and incliment weather concerns…with zero response on how to handle these issues from the developer. 
    -Everything was voted down to allow for discussion, because there was NONE up to this point.
    -I don’t understand why people are slamming Clintonville residents just because they want to talk about the neighborhood in which they live in.

  • It’s the heart of the heart of the heart of it all.

  • lizless

    I think if the Cap on the Short North can figure out the parking, trash, deliveries and space issues, so can Clintonville.

    No place in Columbus faces greater space and parking challenges than the Cap, Gay Street or High Street in the Short North. Big risks were taken and it’s reaped great rewards to the merchants, residents, the City and property owners.

  • @Clintonville Resident – it sounds like you’ve seen plans.  If so, will you please provide a link or describe them more.  Also, what other infrastructure concerns do you have?  You say safety, please explain.  I also saw snow removal as a concern, please explain that too. 

    Also, people on here are upset because, from the arguments set out so far, the concerns seem awfully petty for gains you would get from this development.  Also, some of the arguments are just flat out wrong.

  • @Clintonville Resident – How can density possibly be a concern? This stretch of High we’re talking about is seven lanes wide. If anything, the current buildings are way out of scale with such a wide street. The buildings lining this part of High should at least be 4-stories and even then that’s a bit too short. Look at the kind of buildings that are built around streets that are 5-7 lanes wide Downtown and you’ll see buildings that are dozens of stories tall, but I see there was no problem to get several sprawling developments past residents here.

    I don’t understand your safety concerns unless it’s that traffic goes too fast on High over here and there aren’t enough places for peds to cross. As far as weather, I don’t understand what the developer or how tall a building is has to do with that, as he’s just building a building on High. When it gets icy, the new residents would just have to handle it like current residents do.

    I’m not trashing residents for wanting to talk about their neighborhood, I’m trashing them for their opposition to this development which is rooted in their utter lack of knowledge for what is good development in an urban neighborhood like Clintonville. The residents who were at this meeting sound like they’re from Sprawlsville, not Clintonville.

  • Clintonville Resident

    lizless: Exactly. I’m guessing they came to a viable solution through discussions.  Discussions with the utilities/services for trash pickup and snow removal, to the city for emergency access and high traffic concerns in a very small alley and street, to the area commission to see if it fits in their development plans, and the local residents to make it a win/win for everybody. To restate, there were no discussions with anybody before this new developer asked for 6 zoning variances.  So, you are correct, we can figure out all that if the developer would just talk to the comunity.  There is presently no consideration by the developer for anything outside the 0.5 acre plot.

  • Clintonville Resident

    subur17: This is where the problem begins. There are no plans, only sketches. No link, so I’ll describe. The buildings will be solid from the north end of the property line on high street, south to the corner of California and up California to the alley.  The only access to the apartments will be in the rear.  The only access to the rear is up a very steep alley which is in great disrepair.  The developer said he is not responsible for anything having to do with the alley, “that is up to the city.”  From first hand experience, you cannot get up the alley in the wintertime and you cannot depend on the city to take care of the alley.  Also, larger vehicles, uhaul vans, cannot fit the tight squeeze in the summer.  How exactly will an ambulance or fire vehicle reach the apartments any time of year? 
    You are correct.  Some of the statements in the article that started this whole discussion are petty or misrepresented.  We need to get past that.  Parking is a hot topic because it’s easy to have a strong opinion.  The fact is, there are a lot of people who have cars.  Some use them everyday and others use theirs once a month…but they need to park somewhere.  And most people in the immediate area don’t have usable garages.  Why can’t this be a discussion point?  The developer is not concerned.  When the new residents/consumers cant get up to the parking lot in the winter..what now?  California does not get plowed.  I have slid down California into the middle of High Street multiple times.  In fact, go to the corner, look across High and you will see the retaining wall had a meeting with a car.  Add a bunch more people in the winter with no street clearing and we’ll find out how many people get hurt.  The developer is not concerned.
    Columbusite: I understand your argument and you do make a good point about density.  Now, here is my response and here is where we might/do differ in opinion.  Downtown does not equal Short North does not Grandview does not equal Clintonville.  I love Columbus because of it’s diversity.  People live in Clintonville because they like Clintonville…and this is why the Clintonville Development Plan was designed.  There are height restrictions because this is what the people in Clintonville want.  If this is not your desire, get involved with the CAC and help design the guidelines, don’t fight each project as they come.  Believe me, I not trying to sluff you off, but Clintonville does not equal downtown.  I believe in change and growth, but it should fit within the spirit of the community.  I also direct this comment to lizless in regards to the Cap in the Short North.

  • lizless

    @clintonville resident I think a lot of us are just frustrated with Clintonville. We have watched businesses fail, storefronts remain vacant and the eyesore at the southwest corner of N. Broadway and High just get worse. If the neighborhoold wishes to keep it like that, great.

    I watch great folks and good neighbors like Central City Records, MoJoe, Skreened, SoBo Style, Pattycake and countless others actively contributing and investing in the area and to their districts of High Street. It seems they would benefit greatly from a business association that takes High Street’s commercial properties (and Indianola corridor) improvements into the equation. Fact is, High Street and Indianola are commercial districts.

    High Street in Clintonville has maintained practically the same street presence for the 15 years I’ve lived here. The only thing that seems to change is more vacant signs are in the windows of the retail shops.  If Clintonville wants to maintain that, then great.

    Does the Commission actively engage new or potential developers? Does the Commission actively do anything to encourage new development? I’m not trying to be snarky, just curious.

  • Clintonville Resident

    lizless: I understand your frustration, especially with the High/N Broadway intersection.  That area will be a huge project, but don’t you want to see it done right and not just done.  Do you want to see a gas station go in there?  BTW, that is a proposal being discussed.  I truly believe that Clintonville is right at a major point of commercial growth.  It is a key focus for the City because of it’s tax potential.  Just look at the recent projects.  Giant Eagle, the stores across from Cup o Joe, the Webber and High development, all the street inprovements, the Indianola shopping center, the new bank at Como, now the development we are discussing.  And that’s just south of N Broadway.  There have been some major changes recently in the Urban Commercial Overlay and the new Clintonville Area Plan.  In fact, this will be the first project since it was made official.  We just need to make sure developers don’t just come in, dump, make a killing and run.  That’s not smart growth and this project will set a precedent.  The corner of California and High will be developed with commercial along High.  That will happen.  But what we are trying to do is to work with the developers so its a win for the city, the developers, and the community.  To your last paragraph…I don’t know.

  • lizless

    Thanks for all your helpful input, Clintonville Resident. I serve on the Downtown Commission and I can appreciate the challenges that the Clintonville Commission faces.

    So many of us share a deep love of Clintonville and that’s great. I don’t know the Clintonville Commissioners but if I could be helpful recruiting small business, particularly restaurants to specific projects, I’d be happy to.

    And, yes, I do love the new Giant Eagle!

  • CbusIslander

    I don’t understand the hype with this project vote.  Where are the renderings?  The development needs to go back to the drawing board, and convince the neighborhood its intention.  Projects get denied then approved all the time.  If the developer didn’t show any specifics and just was asking for ordinances then i would expect a no vote.  I would expect the developer to try again.

  • Clintonville Resident Says: I don’t understand why people are slamming Clintonville residents just because they want to talk about the neighborhood in which they live in.

    To be fair, few people here are “slamming Clintonville residents” for anything. I appreciate you (and everyone else who lives or works in Clintonville) taking the time to add your thoughts to this discussion. I personally think that the project can either be adjusted, explained better, or modified to work in the neighborhood and be that win-win-win that you want for the city, the developer, and the neighborhood. Looking forward to hearing more about this as it progresses.

  • Clintonville Resident

    Walker: You are right.  I looked back on the previous posts and the “slamming” comment didn’t make a whole lot of sense.  I think I was just annoyed with all the focus on the “sky view” issue.  My bad.  I’ve been involved from the beginning and that was never a real concern of the immediate residents.  With regard to the rest of what you said, I’m looking forward to learning more as well.  I’ll keep the board posted.

    CbusIslander: Exactly. That’s the process we are going through.

  • Most CAC members back overlays
    Wednesday,  October 7, 2009 2:07 PM

    Although it won’t change anything any time soon, a majority of Clintonville Area Commission members gave their backing last week to what would amount to more restrictive zoning requirements in the commercial areas of North High Street and Indianola Avenue.

    The 5-2 vote was in favor of the adoption of what are called commercial overlays for the two Clintonville corridors.


  • columbusdreamer

    @ Walker: this has to be one of the proudest moments of the CU life. I feel like there was a bit of resulution in there somewhere. Now you just need to get the developer to look at this post.  THis could become a standard in which all projects in the CMA would be presented. Let everyone have thier say, revise, and more discussion find the most common ground and done.

    anyway what do you mean by overlay.

  • ^Read the article Walker linked to for an explanation of the concept of a zoning overlay.

  • karlbenz

    Columbusite Says:
    @Pablo – Did you read the neighbors’ responses? They were whining about their “sky view”, put forward a bogus argument about lower property values from mixed-use development”

    Apparently you didn’t read the neighbors’ responses either. None of the neighbors complained about a “sky view,” a real-estate agent submitted a letter stating that. And you’re misinterpreting the property value argument. The reduction of value isn’t because there would be a mixed-use development next door. The reduction would come from your windows suddenly looking out onto a gracious brick wall. Anyways, most of the concerns stem from infrastructure concerns, and the lack of communication b/w the developer and the local residents… not because of property values, although they are themselves legitimate and powerful arguments.

    “I’m not trashing residents for wanting to talk about their neighborhood, I’m trashing them for their opposition to this development which is rooted in their utter lack of knowledge for what is good development in an urban neighborhood like Clintonville.”

    Who are you to decide that the people here have an “utter lack” of knowledge? Because they disagree with you? And why broaden the scope of your diatribe to label people against this particular project as anti-liberal like you did earlier? It just seems comical to infer someone’s political leanings from a largely apolitical topic. Perhaps I’m a republican because I don’t care to ride a bike everywhere I go?

  • karlbenz Says: The reduction of value isn’t because there would be a mixed-use development next door. The reduction would come from your windows suddenly looking out onto a gracious brick wall.

    The house on California that would be closest to this development does have an alley in between where this development would go, and while I haven’t seen renderings, I’m assuming the parking would be located in the back. So I’m guessing that the “brick wall” would be around 50 to 100 feet away from their window.

    Most houses in this area aren’t that lucky. Their neighbors houses are built pretty close together with maybe 10 feet of space in between them. So the common view out of side windows is the side of another house.

  • urban surfin

    The DeVere development for California and High was on the Clintonville Area Commission’s zoning & variance agenda again last night — I haven’t heard the outcome, but I could guess. The plan should be going before the full CAC on Thursday night.

    We really need to hear from the future of Clintonville at that meeting — singles and young families in their 20s and 30s, progressive young business owners, and others who understand that mixed-use and density are essential to the future of Clintonville. People who understand that 26 units no longer translates into 52 cars. People who understand that a four-story mixed-use building next to a bus stop and with bicycle parking is a great asset, and that the new Clintonville is peopled with bus, bike and scooter riders, not just gas guzzlers.

    Go the the CAC meeting. Make sure the Clintonville establishment is aware of the future.

  • Clintonville Area Commission turns down two proposals
    Monday,  November 9, 2009 5:52 PM

    Developers went 0-for-2 with the Clintonville Area Commission last week.

    For one it was a second time at the plate, and he went down swinging on a vote of 4-3 against a proposed mixed-use project on the northeast corner of North High Street and East California Avenue.

    For the other, it was a first at-bat, and he struck out on a vote of 5-0, with two commission members abstaining.


  • John McCollum

    This makes no sense to me. It seems obvious that a well-designed building looks a lot better than a vacant lot.

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