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Rehab Activity Picking up Steam on Near East Side

Brent Warren Brent Warren Rehab Activity Picking up Steam on Near East SideMural by Clint Davidson. Photo by Walker Evans.
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Neighborhood leaders and city officials are cautiously optimistic about a recent uptick in rehab activity on the Near East Side. John Turner, Administrator of the city’s Land Redevelopment Office, said that 23 homes — all vacant and in need of serious work when they were bought from the city’s land bank — are currently in the process of being renovated in the neighborhood.

“There is a lot going on right now in the area,” said Turner, “a lot of rehabs in progress and a couple that have just been completed, so we’re pretty excited.”

Land Bank staff track all of the homes that they sell, following up with the new owners to make sure renovations are happening in a timely manner. Turner said that half of the 12 Near East Side homes renovated in 2015 have been sold, and of four recently-completed houses, two are in contract and one sold in February for $234,000.

Estaban Saldarriaga of Eye Homes has renovated and sold five homes in the neighborhood over the past two years, including two land bank properties. His company is currently renovating an additional five area homes — all of which were previously vacant — and expects each of those to sell quickly.

“They’ve been selling within the next day or two after we put them on the market, for full price,” he said, adding that “these are not conventional rehabs… we put in new electrical, HVAC, plumbing, we have a team of contractors that are getting good at bringing these distressed properties back to life.”

Kathleen Bailey, chair of the Near East Area Commission, agreed that the pace of rehabs in the neighborhood seems to be picking up recently, and said that the work being done is generally of a high quality.

“We talk to the people who are purchasing properties,” she said. “It does us no good if it’s not done well.”

With many of the newly-renovated homes fetching prices well north of $200,000, Bailey acknowledged that there are concerns about affordability, although she stressed that the neighborhood has an abundance of subsidized low-income housing.

“You want development to come, that’s the whole point of the commission, and of organizing to get the neighborhood to develop,” said Bailey. However, she noted that progress is a double-edged sword, saying that the neighborhood has had a hard time getting more reasonably-priced homes on the market for individuals and families that don’t have a low enough income to qualify for subsidies.

“That’s the big hole — housing for regular neighbors who maybe can’t afford a $250,000 house, but if they do get a house, they’ll take care of it,” she added. “That’s what you had in the neighborhood that used to be here, before the freeways, and that’s what we want to get back to.”

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  • This is good news but not too surprising with a largely intact neighborhood just outside of downtown. Honestly I’m surprised there aren’t more infill proposals for the neighborhood.

    Also, can anyone tell me where that sign is in the picture at the top of the article? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it.

    • NickWarzy

      It’s on the side of Yellow Brick Pizza at Oak St. & S. 18th Ave.

  • Maybe a photograph of one of the outstanding rehabs done by EyE Homes would better reflect the content of the article?

  • Jason Powell

    Frankly, I’m surprised it’s taken this long to pick up steam. VV and IV are beyond a lot of people’s price range and Olde Towne has more beautiful old world style homes than you can shake a stick at. There is so much potential within the general near east side it’s ridiculous.

  • The Sarcastic Medved

    I remember a number of years ago that area was still kinda dicey. Had a friend who renovated a house there and had to have burglar alarms on every entrance.

    • Marcus Shull

      I’d wager almost every home in Dublin, Powell and Bexley, have burglar alarms on each entrance too. With 15+plus years on the east side, We’ve been victim to crime no more than our neighbors in the suburbs. That isn’t to say that the near East side hasn’t seen some crime, but marked improvements over the past 20 year have been made. :)

  • hbote

    A couple of comments:
    -There are still very affordable options to be had in OTE. We live in a completely renovated 2,200 sq ft, 3 bed, 2 full bath house that literally looks like a castle south of Main Street and paid half of what was discussed in the article.

    -According to BizFirst, homes in 43205 and 43206 are appreciating the most in central Ohio: http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/2016/02/exclusive-here-s-where-home-prices-are.html#g25

    -The City of Columbus Land Bank Facebook page has before and after pics of rehabs done on Oak Street (house mentioned in article), one in the KLD, and one on Berekely in Franklin Park. All were very well done!

  • It’s true that Olde Towne East is experiencing the same Seller’s market that all midtown Columbus neighborhoods are.
    Over the last 12 months, 35 of the 50 homes sold in Olde Towne East proper were on the market 27 days or less, 20 of them in 7 days or less. Same story for Franklin Park and Woodland Park.
    As affordability near the city center becomes harder and harder to find, similarly good housing stock North of Long Street and South of Main are beginning to become viable options and pockets of community are being built on the fringes of OTE and KLD and South of the freeway as a recent CU article on Old Oakes points out.
    Flippers are back and they can’t flip fast enough to feed the demand for move-in ready homes with character.

  • nfisher2

    We’ve been waiting for 30 35 years for it, and it’s finally come around, so glad people are starting to realize that OTE is a great place to live. Thanks for the “for sale” stats Joe. We are seeing the same thing in the rental market, the demographic is rapidly changing and we continue to renovate our apts and they rent extremely quickly at crazy prices.

    Can you readers help me with this question? I attend lots of meetings, and don’t understand why do our city officials continue to push Franklinton every chance they get, and never push OTE? It’s like they got a memo…”Please push Franklinton every chance you get”. If this is the wrong thread, please move it. I know Kauffman is going to make a large investment soon, but the existing housing sucks when you put it up against OTE.

    Either way, I’m loving the interest in OTE. Look for some development news from me in the next 6-12 months.


    • The city is pushing Franklinton — particularly the eastern side of the neighborhood — because it’s largely a blank slate with big tracts of empty land that require medium-to-large developers to make large investments to build at a much bigger scale.

      OTE is largely a residential neighborhood without too many large parcels of land. It will continue to see improvements through single-family-home renovations and small plot infill that can be done by a wider pool of individuals. It doesn’t need someone like CASTO or NRI to come in to build a 300-unit apartment or condo building.

      That being said, there is a “blank slate” area just north of OTE, which the City has stepped in to push in a big way: http://eastpact.org/ — What happens there will have a big and positive impact on OTE as well.

  • somebuckeye

    I love the Near East side. If you look at the size of the houses, the quality of craftsmanship, and the convenience of being located snugly between Downtown and Bexley, it’s really an incredible value. No other Columbus neighborhood comes close.

  • Jessica Hamlin

    I am thrilled to be part of the little neighborhood that can! Bought in 2015, still not in the house yet, but making good progress. The rehab process is long and frankly, somewhat frightening. But, it’s not a flip. It’s hopefully a forever.

    Met several neighbors this weekend and cannot wait to make it all official.

    Trying to keep the rehab authentic to our area, if anyone has parts/pieces, anything – let me know.

  • lbl

    OTE is truly a great neighborhood full of such quality stock. the biggest draw-back that I can see to attracting the upwardly mobile millennials is the lack of walk-able commercial options. a larger and larger percentage want to at least have the option of walking to shop, work, play. and until OTE can infill with more neighborhood commercial, it will continue the uphill battle to reaching its full potential.

    if the City can attract business and develop Main St as the commercial corridor it was conceived as, this would help infill vacancies in that whole tract of OTE.
    its slowing happening in the KLD, but Main continues to be blighted commercially.
    offering tax breaks, or whatever is needed to get the ball rolling in the business sector.

  • Java Master

    I am still missing the old Oak Street Tavern with the working girls standing around out front.
    (sigh) Nothing like a little harmless vice to spice up the neighborhood!

    • Don’t be an asshole. Human trafficking isn’t harmless.

      But yeah, har har hurr hurr hookers derp derp.

      • Java Master

        No one is being as *asshole* here. You should check youself, my friend. And you are my friend. I was well acquainted with with the vice cops who made regular stops at or near that location to arrest perps. I am as happy as anyone that the Near East Side has moved beyond the dismal ’70’s, after all, I was there when the historic district was first proposed. But the libertarian streak in me permits consenting adults to make their own choices as well. ( uh-oh, I can feel another lecture coming on…)

        • Your mistake then is that you think that all prostitutes are “consenting adults”.

          (You’ve also got a strange definition of a “lecture” if all it takes is one or two sentences to qualify.)

          • Java Master

            Walker, my friend (and you still are my friend, even if you did call me a name), let’s continue this discussion over a cup of coffee, or a tall pilsner, rather than on your website, okay? Bytes and bandwidth make for a poor debate forum on a single comment which is obviously a sensitive point for you. You still shouldn’t be caling ppl assholes, here or anywhere else.

          • I don’t know anyone by the name of “Java”, so forgive me if I have no idea who you are.

            Friend or not, I don’t think it’s appropriate to make light of those who suffer, particularly from a criminal act that by-and-large hurts minority women of lower income.

            Just my two cents. I guess if you really want to keep posting stuff like that you can take it Facebook or Reddit where it would be more welcome. Not here.


  • Cbussmallbiz

    Wow. walker gotta get all righteous about working girl comment? And the outlet mall story is funny sorry you had to sit in your car. My god your carbon footprint! The planet! Think of the planet! Since the message board shut down I notice the comments are really a sounding board for you. I wonder if the intention was to amplify your opinions and mute other points of view. FYI you sound like a dick.

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