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Makeover Planned for Parsons Avenue in Olde Towne East

Walker Evans Walker Evans Makeover Planned for Parsons Avenue in Olde Towne East
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The small stretch of Parsons Avenue that runs along the western edge of Olde Towne East has always been a hotspot of activity for the neighborhood. Home to numerous restaurants, bars, shops and businesses, Parsons Avenue is the default place to go for an art gallery exhibition, a haircut, or a cup of coffee.

The City of Columbus has plans to further enhance the area with a new program that will upgrade the infrastructure, the environment and update it with a public art component as well.

“The Parsons Avenue Streetscape project is a City of Columbus capital infrastructure project with significant economic development considerations for the Near East area and Olde Towne East neighborhood,” explains Cristina Parady, Project Manager and Utility Coordinator for the Columbus Division of Design & Construction. “It offered a perfect opportunity for the Development Department to partner with the Department of Public Service on a public art project under the new city public art program.”

A public meeting is being held this evening at the Columbus Public Health Auditorium at 240 Parsons Avenue from 6pm to 8pm to introduce Olga Ziemska, the Cleveland-based artist who selected for the project through a statewide call for submissions. Attendees will be able to learn about her work and share their thoughts with her about how artwork should be best integrated into the neighborhood.

“Because the public art component was identified early in the project’s development, the city has the opportunity to engage the artist with the design team and community at the very beginning of design development, which offers many more possibilities for the public art that’s created,” said Parady. “In this project, the art could be physically integrated into the streetscape, a discrete public art installation, a series of installations, or any combination thereof.”

The art component in this streetscape program stems from an Executive Order from Mayor Michael Coleman signed earlier this year that established the inclusion of public art in all significant capital improvement projects. This stretch of Parsons between Broad Street and Franklin Avenue will connect at the south end with a future phase of ODOT’s I-70/I-71 redevelopment, which will see the realignment of Parsons to connect to a new highway feeder street located closer to the highway trench.

The project is expected to officially begin in mid-2015 with the burying of utilities, followed by roadway reconstruction in the Summer of 2016 and a planned completion of the public art component in the Spring of 2017.

For more information, visit columbus.gov and www.olgaziemska.com.

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  • Graybeak

    We got some planters down on our end of Parsons. So, um, yay.

  • rswank

    I’ll take anything positive for OTE but why can’t we just get a simple neighborhood arch at Parsons/Broad and/or Town/Bryden?
    That would be less risky insofar as a potentially polarizing ‘art’ installation that oftentimes end up looking dated.
    The arch would also help give some extra credibility as it would unify and be a consistent border sign as other ‘established/city-blessed’ neighborhoods have such as
    King-Lincoln on Long, all the Short North arches, Merion Village, Old North Columbus etc.

    • Not that Tom

      Why not do something unique for OTE?

      I think of the neighborhood as special part of Columbus (mainly bc I live there), but I feel it deserves it’s own aesthetic / stylistic anchor

  • Jason Powell

    I always thought there should be an arch at the “entrance” of every neighborhood immediately surrounding downtown.

  • An important part of the overall plan will also include a left turn onto Parsons Ave when traveling West on Broad St. towards downtown, which is something residents have been fighting for ever since 70/71 split project was announced.

  • Here’s a survey about the public art: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/266xvp3

  • starman

    I agree with Christy…left turn on to Parsons is crucial for retail to survive in that stretch…80% of customer base lives east of Parsons…

    • It would make it a lot easier to get over there for people who live North of Broad too.

      If driving, we’ve got to either head into Downtown on Spring to Washington to get to Parsons from Oak Street (and Washington is currently closed south-bound by CMA for construction). Or, we’ve got to turn left onto Broad from a neighborhood street (near impossible and very dangerous) to jog through the neighborhood to approach Parsons from Oak from within the neighborhood.

      Both are very indirect and add a lot of extra traffic onto side streets for little reason.

  • Manatee

    Very interested to see what Olga contributes. She is a CCAD alum and has made some pretty fun/whimsical/cerebral public art pieces worldwide.

  • Java Master

    Before there was an Olde Town East, back in the day when the Near East Side was called the Model Cities Neighborhood…. we can still miss the Oak Street Tavern that was located at Oak St. and Parsons Avenue. The working girls use to hang around that corner and occasionally dodge inside for a cup of coffee to keep warm in the winter ( they were out there in all kinds of weather).

    Use to work in the Bryson Building and watch the cop/hooker action from our office window!

    We use to chat up an attractive bottle blonde that was on the corner in ’74 . Said her name was Marjorie, well maybe, maybe not. Turned out she was a police officer pulling undercover duty. That put a bit of a crimp in the Oak Street Tavern’s business for sure.

    Nothing like a bit of colorful urban realism to bring it all back home. OTE may be a nicer place to live 40 years later but we still miss talking to Marjorie…

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