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City Hopes to Jumpstart Investment with One Linden Plan

Brent Warren Brent Warren City Hopes to Jumpstart Investment with One Linden PlanA conceptual rendering of improvements to Cleveland Avenue from the One Linden Plan.
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City and community leaders hope that a plan unveiled this week will help to jumpstart a new era of investment in the Linden neighborhood.

The area has been a focus of Mayor Andrew Ginther’s administration since taking office in 2016. The new One Linden Plan is the result of a 14-month community planning process, led by the city in collaboration with United Way of Central Ohio, Ohio State University and the Neighborhood Design Center.

“Great neighborhoods do not happen by accident, but by vision and leadership and planning,” said Mayor Ginther in a statement announcing the plan’s release. “The One Linden plan will set the course for long-term transformation of the neighborhood through community involvement, city investments and important partnerships with private and other public sectors.”

The city highlighted four targeted investments in the neighborhood as part of the initiative:

  • A $20 million Linden Community Recreation Center to be completed by 2020.
  • $2 million in Neighborhood Crisis Response funds for sidewalks, ADA ramps and neighborhood cleanup.
  • $1.2 million for street lights on Cleveland Avenue between Chittenden and Hudson Advenues.
  • Prenatal Trip Assistance through the Smart Columbus initiative.

Additional commitments from the private sector are also part of the new Linden plan, according to the city:

  • $4.25 million for infrastructure projects from the Georgetown Company (part of the Easton developer’s 2017 tax abatement deal), as well as an additional $1.5 million cash payment towards revitalization efforts.
  • $10 million from Habitat for Humanity Mid-Ohio to build new homes and to rehab and repair existing homes.
  • An in-kind donation of $500,000 from the Pizzuti Companies to serve as the project manager for the construction of the new recreation center.
  • $1 million from Battelle for after-school programming being run by the YMCA.

The full plan (available here) contains a wealth of information, including in-depth looks into the history and present state of education, housing and safety in the neighborhood, among other subjects. Ten “big ideas” are then presented as the main distillation of the feedback received during the community planning process.

Also included are a number of ideas for specific “catalytic projects,” such as a business incubator, bike infrastructure improvements and dedicated transit lanes on Cleveland Avenue.

Linden is closer to revitalization than many in Columbus realize, said Jason Reece, a professor of City and Regional Planning at OSU, who spoke about the One Linden Plan at a Columbus Metropolitan Club event earlier this week.

“Most of us don’t see it, we have the bias of now,” he said. “Linden was among our neighborhoods hit hardest by housing market crash, but we are seeing recovery happen…and we are seeing safety improving.”

Reece also stressed that it is possible to revitalize neighborhoods in a way that takes into account poor residents and the dangers of gentrification and displacement. He cited Weinland Park – where early efforts ensured that affordable housing remained in the neighborhood even as housing prices rose – as well as one section of the South Side, where vacancy rates are down but the diversity of the neighborhood has actually increased.

In both cases, nonprofit organizations and major institutional partners – like OSU and Nationwide Children’s Hospital – worked together to plan and strategize about the change they saw coming to the neighborhoods.

“For this next generation of neighborhoods that are going to transform,” Reece added, “this transformation is going to be built around partnerships and assets…and Linden is filled with assets.”

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