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Godman Guild to Move, Sell Weinland Park Site to Developer

Brent Warren Brent Warren Godman Guild to Move, Sell Weinland Park Site to DeveloperGodman Guild at 303 E. Sixth Ave. Photo by Anne Evans.
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The Godman Guild, a social service provider and community anchor in Weinland Park for decades, announced a plan this week to sell its property on East Sixth Avenue to a developer.

The 2.3-acre parcel – which contains the former Sixth Avenue Elementary School that serves as the organization’s headquarters, as well as a parking lot and a community garden – will be sold to Marker Development, a local company that recently unveiled plans to build a six-story mixed-use development immediately to the south.

The news came via a letter to the neighborhood from the Guild’s President and CEO, Ellen Moss.

“When I first arrived at the Guild in 1994, Weinland Park was dealing with the challenges of crime, deteriorating housing and school buildings, and a decades-long general decline,” Moss wrote. “With the participation and support of so many, especially the residents, the neighborhood has been through a very positive transformation and serves as a testament to what’s possible when people work together for a common cause.”

Godman Guild bus.
The Godman Guild is moving out of Weinland Park. Photo by Anne Evans.

Moss went on to say that in recent years fewer and fewer adults from the neighborhood have been participating in the organization’s programs. A partnership with Weinland Park Elementary and programs geared toward area teens will continue, according to the letter. As for where the Guild’s new home will be located, Moss said “when we have what we believe to be a viable option for our move we will include that in our update.”

A representative of Marker Development declined to provide any more information about what they might eventually build on the Sixth Avenue site, but in the short term the company will likely use the property as a staging area as construction activity ramps up on the six-story Fifth Avenue project.

In an email to Columbus Underground, Moss said that she does not know what Marker Development’s plans are for the Guild site.

“We are still working with Marker on finalizing the deal and support their current efforts in the community. Based on their current project in process on Fifth Avenue, how they approached us to introduce that project, and how their current project on Fifth can support continued development in the neighborhood, we felt Marker was best suited and with the best intentions for the community.”

Godman Guild has been a key partner over the last 20-plus years as numerous local institutions, community groups and foundations worked to revitalize Weinland Park. Private developers have also played a large role in that process, and housing prices in the neighborhood have risen dramatically.

Thrive Companies (formerly Wagenbrenner Development) has built new apartments and single family homes throughout the area, and its work to redevelop the former Columbus Coated Fabric site – located just east of the Godman Guild property – brought an influx of new, increasingly expensive, market rate housing into the neighborhood. The developer’s latest plans include a 315-unit building at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and North Fourth Street.

The overall result has been a completely changed neighborhood, even if, as Weinland Park resident and housing advocate Michael Wilkos has pointed out, a significant amount of subsidized and affordable housing has been preserved in the area. Wilkos and others also argue that the new, market-rate developments are helping to relieve some of the pressure on the housing market by closing the gap in housing supply.

For the Godman Guild, this is not the first time the 123-year-old organization has chosen to move its home base in the face of dramatic change around it.

First established in 1898 in a small house on West Goodale Street, a donation from the Godman Shoe Company led to the construction of a new, larger building. That building was later demolished, along with most of the surrounding Flytown neighborhood, as part of an urban renewal effort known at the time as the “Goodale Slum Clearance Project.”

The Guild moved into a new building at 321 W. Second Ave., in Victorian Village, in 1962. That building was demolished 40 years later, replaced by a new residential development featuring condos and single family homes. Having established a satellite office in Weinland Park in 1990, the Guild moved all of its operations into the building at 303 E. Sixth Ave. in 2002.

For more information, see www.godmanguild.org.

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