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Fast Forward: Olde Towne East & Franklin Park

Walker Evans Walker Evans Fast Forward: Olde Towne East & Franklin ParkMural by Clint Davidson. Photo by Walker Evans.
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The renaissance of the Olde Towne East neighborhood on the Near East Side of Columbus began decades ago, but is certainly far from finished. This geographically large area is primarily a residential neighborhood, known for its 100-plus year old housing stock, but with a lot of room for new buildings on empty lots sprinkled throughout.

Directly east of Olde Towne East is its companion neighborhood known as Franklin Park, which shares many of the same traits. In this installment of our Fast Forward series, we take a combined look at both areas to see what the near future holds in terms of new development.

Dark blue represents announced development. Light blue represents empty lots open to new development.

Over 400 New Residents Will Be Moving Into The Area

The largest change that Olde Towne East and Franklin Park will see in the next few years is an increase in its population. In addition to the ongoing renovation of individual historic properties, several larger developments are in the works for the handful of larger sites open to multifamily development.

A 100-unit mixed-use development was announced in 2015 for the southern end of the district on East Main Street. This site is well known as the “Buster Douglas” property, as the hometown boxer purchased the land in 1991 for redevelopment. The site continues to site empty nearly three decades later, but could be transformative if the newest plan gets under way.

Another long-term large empty lot is located on Parsons Avenue, which has seen multiple redevelopment plans proposed. The latest was unveiled in April 2016, which calls for 78 apartments units and some ground-floor retail space, but ground has also yet to break on this project.

One larger development that is currently under construction is a 54-unit senior housing project on East Main Street on the south end of the Franklin Park neighborhood.

A couple of medium-sized multifamily developments in the area include a 19-unit development called The Morgan, recently announced for the intersection of Oak Street and Ohio Avenue. Another 15-unit development recently broke ground with construction just south at Ohio Avenue and Bryden Avenue. Just east of those two, a larger historic building will soon be renovated into another 15-unit property. Similarly, a previously vacant historic building on Bryden was restored last year into a 12-unit apartment building.

These two neighborhoods are also seeing multiple single-family homes infilling vacant lots in the area. A prominent example includes this home from Lifestyle Communities on Oak Street, which is serving as a bit of a trial run for the company.

More Retail, Restaurants and Offices Coming Soon

While residences make up the bulk of these neighborhoods, there are plenty of corner spots for retailers to call home, particularly along Oak Street. A prominent space at Oak and Champion has sat empty for several years and is open for redevelopment. A similar type of building further east on Oak Street is open for ground floor restaurant space with upper floor offices. And a combined new build / renovation project at Oak and Wilson call for more retail space along the strip.

On a larger scale, the Franklin Park Trolley Barn calls for a market-style renovation project that would bring shopping, grocery, retail and restaurant space to the area’s residents in a big way. A more traditional grocery store was outlined in a 2013 redevelopment plan, which could similarly provide more shopping for the area with a Broad Street location if the plan comes to fruition.

Last but not least, a previously mentioned residential development on Franklin Avenue is planned for the inclusion of multiple retail spaces for new businesses to call home.

Public Art, Parking Garages and More

On the far western edge of Olde Towne East, Parsons Avenue is undergoing a major reconstruction project. That largely centers around an upgrade to public utilities, sidewalk improvements and road resurfacing. Once completed, the area will be more pedestrian friendly, and will also feature the installation of new public art.

The south end of the area also has a large office and parking garage building that is currently under construction by Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Once completed, the building will service the main hospital campus on the other side of I-70, but will also bring new office jobs to the Near East Side.

The Fast Forward series is presented by our friends at TRIAD Architecture. CLICK HERE to read previous installments in this ongoing editorial series.

TRIAD is a full-service architecture and design firm where we partner with our clients to deliver quality solutions. Recently, we have expanded our services to apply our expertise and pragmatic approach to development projects and facility solutions.

At TRIAD, its never “just business” – we believe that architecture is stewardship, and that everything we do should benefit our employees, our clients and the communities we serve.

We are also working with our community partners to curate diverse perspectives on architecture’s impact in our communities. Visit www.ArchitectureIsStewardship.com for more information.

To find out more about our work, check out www.triadarchitects.com.

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