CMHA Selling Bollinger Tower for Proposed Hotel Redevelopment
Constructed in 1984, the 11-story Bollinger Tower was the first high rise building to appear in the Short North, predating more recent buildings that have been constructed or proposed for the neighborhood. The building has long served as a home for low-income elderly residents, but will soon see renovations at the hand of a new owner.
The Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) announced today that it is in contract to sell Bollinger to private developer Schiff Capital Group.
“Selling Bollinger Tower fulfills our long-term strategy to expand CMHA’s capacity to assist more residents,” stated CMHA president and CEO Charles Hillman. “This transaction furthers our plan to divest ourselves of high-maintenance real estate in order to invest directly in people’s lives. Residents will receive portable housing vouchers enabling them to live in apartments of their choice in neighborhoods of their choice.”
While no specific plans are being announced for the building, a proposal presented to CMHA by Schiff Capital Group indicates that a hotel conversion is likely, given the close proximity to the Convention Center.
“We’re very excited about the possibilities and options that we think would be great for the Short North and the city,” said Michael Schiff, principal at Schiff Capital Group. “As the process moves forward, we want to be accommodating to the existing tenants and allow them plenty of time to relocate and find alternative, even better places to live. That’s the housing authority’s priority and our priority as well.”
While some may view the displacement of lower income residents as a part of the ongoing gentrification of the Short North, representatives at CMHA explained the the sale of Bollinger will allow them to serve more residents in better facilities.
“I certainly understand how the perception of gentrification is a concern,” said CMHA COO Bryan Brown. “Do we have an obligation to provide low-income housing in a high-cost neighborhood? Sure. But we also want to expand our mission and help serve three times as many residents as we currently do at Bollinger. And if you think about the need for more hotel capacity, which provides economic development for our city, converting Bollinger to a hotel is a big plus for the city as a whole. On balance, it’s a big win and I hope people see it that way.”
Bollinger Tower currently houses 100 residents in 100 units. CMHA plans to accommodate 300 additional affordable units with the funding secured from the sale of the building. Brown added that the types of residents who live in Bollinger would be better served in a different type of facility in the long term.
“Serving elderly residents in a high rise building is a model that is frankly outdated,” he stated. “It doesn’t necessarily allow residents to age in place as well as other models. For us, it’s really all about looking at the population we’re serving in that location. We do other things that better serve them.”
Residents at Bollinger Tower will begin relocating once the sale of the building has closed, sometime within the next six months. CMHA will provide relocation assistance during that process.
Through a combination of its own initiatives and joint ventures, CMHA is on track to add to its portfolio more than 200 affordable and low-income housing units per year over the next several years.