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Near East Side Historical Building to be Repurposed

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Near East Side Historical Building to be RepurposedRendering via CMHA / Moody Nolan.
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One of 35 historical buildings that occupied the former site of the Poindexter Village affordable housing complex is awaiting sufficient funds and a purpose.

The Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) demolished 33 of the buildings a couple years ago to make way for its redevelopment project, Poindexter Place apartments. The 450-unit, updated complex was started last year and is set for completion early next. Two of the original buildings remain on the site, but CMHA COO Bryan Brown said one will be demolished due to lack of funding for renovation.

The second building, which resides in front near North Champion Avenue, Brown hopes to convert into a community engagement center.

“It would include some nonprofit office space, and then the idea would be that it would house the history exhibit,” Brown said. “We would move the exhibit there and then we would have some sort of what I call a ‘multipurpose space.’”

Brown is referring to the “Poindexter Village: A Portrait in Stories” exhibit currently on display at the Columbus Historical Society inside COSI. The display describes and portrays the 70-year lifetime of the Poindexter Village site and the preceding political turbulence for people of color that led to its construction.

While the property was once itself considered a move forward for residents of the Near East Side, several factors over the years contributed to its failure.

“As they became more affluent, resident families moved to other urban communities,” said the exhibit description. “Interstate highways severed the neighborhood from downtown, isolating less well-off families. Employment and cultural opportunities diminished. Conditions within Poindexter Village deteriorated, and federal funds for building improvements shrank, leading to Poindexter Village’s final decline and eventual demolition.”

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Brown said he’d hoped for more funding, and requested $500,000 of the state capital budget to fund construction of the new community engagement center. Of that, the state granted $150,000, the only money to be raised so far for the estimated $1.5 million project.

After a year or two, if no funds are raised, Brown said CMHA will go forward with the plan as is, but they are looking to collaborate and hear other ideas for the building in exchange for funding.

“Certainly we are open to changing the plan for that building, depending on how we can come together with community stakeholders and others and develop a financing plan for that building,” Brown said.

But he’s not planning on handing the property over to anyone else, he clarified.

“It will be some sort of a process we will go through [over] the next 12 months and see what kind of progress can be made working with community stakeholders, what kind of proposal we can come up with, and resources,” he said. “If that doesn’t look like it’s going to be possible, then we would fall back to this idea and go ahead and pursue it.”

Renderings via CMHA / Moody Nolan.

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