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Community Input Sought on Next Steps for East Franklinton Plan

Walker Evans Walker Evans Community Input Sought on Next Steps for East Franklinton Plan
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A view of the unrenovated warehouse located at 435 West State Street in East Franklinton.

Development plans in East Franklinton continue to chug right along at a steady clip. Just three months ago, the information gathering process kickstarted with a public input meeting and a series of interviews with neighborhood stakeholders.

“Many of those stakeholders came from within East Franklinton, like major property owners and area commissioners,” says Brian Davis, Planning Assistant with ACP Visioning+Planning, Ltd, one of the firms working on the plan. “But we also contacted people outside the neighborhood including the local arts community, urban designers and members of the city-wide creative class.”

Davis says that several themes emerged during this process, which he distills down into five main areas:

  • Affordability – The requirement for affordable living opportunities was expressed by both existing residents in East Franklinton as well as potential new young artists who are willing to move into the neighborhood.
  • Diversity – The requirement of diversity has remained the most often repeated topic during the public input process thus far. The definition of diversity varied in use, but includes an emphasis on the resident mix.
  • Identity – East Franklinton should not strive to be the next Short North. It was made clear that the efforts in this area should not seek to replicate other successful neighborhoods in Columbus. The need for a unique identity is essential.
  • Branding – “Creative Community” is not an adequate descriptor. This title does not accurately describe the comprehensive types of people that would be attracted to a revitalized East Franklinton neighborhood. Innovation District was proposed as an alternative, but was not supported by the entire community.
  • Optimism – Recent developments in East Franklinton provide a unique opportunity for continual momentum. Participants in the public input process showed a strong sense of optimism throughout.

Attendees of the September meeting were also asked for assistance in identifying pride points within the neighborhood, as well as sites with strong potential for future redevelopment. Those focus areas include 400 West Rich Street, Dodge Park, the former Riverside Bradley area, McDowell Avenue, and the blocks located between Town and Rich Streets.

“What could happen with those spaces still needs to be identified,” says Davis. “But those were consistently identified as areas of interest.”

A conceptual rendering of a renovated warehouse (left) next to new construction residential units (right) proposed for West State Street — Rendering by m+a architects

The planning efforts for East Franklinton continue next week with a two-day series of workshops and and a community open house event at the warehouse space at 435 West State Street. The first workshop takes place on the evening of Tuesday, December 13th and will bring attendees up to speed on the project thus far, provide examples of other similar district plans in other parts of the US, and will look for feedback on key themes.

“What we learn on the first night will drive what happens on the second night,” says Davis. “But we want to continue narrowing people’s interests and concerns from very broad to specific.”

The all-day open house event will kick off the second day where the urban design team will develop a refined set of project principles based on input from day one’s workshop.

“These design concepts will be graphically illustrated and mapped across the study area,” explains Steve Kearney, Senior Planner with Goody Clancy, the planning firm that is the contract holder for the project. “While this will be a working session, we welcome anyone who is interested in participating.”

The concepts developed throughout the day will then be presented to the public during the evening workshop on day two.

“Participants will have a second opportunity to further refine the planning effort,” says Kearney. “While workshop #1 will be about creating the project principles, workshop #2 will be about how these principles may physically emerge.”

Once again, input from both inside and outside the neighborhood is encouraged for this ongoing process.

“Any successful planning effort must build on the assets and authenticity of East Franklinton, and this cannot happen without residential input,” states Kearney. “Likewise, it will be essential to understand what the creative class is looking for in a neighborhood. This has to be a joint effort.”

Beyond next week, the planning efforts will continue with a market analysis, which will take a look at housing, commercial and retail needs within the planning area.

“The market analysis will significantly shape the outcome of the overall plan,” says Kearney. “The ultimate goal of the planning effort is to develop an achievable vision for East Franklinton that will result in implementation, and market realities must be taken into account in order for this to occur.”

The public presentation on the market findings will occur sometime in mid-January 2012.

For more details on the upcoming East Franklinton Plan Community Workshops, CLICK HERE for event info.

An interior view of the unrenovated warehouse 435 West State Street in East Franklinton.

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