Opinion: The Developers in Franklinton are Eating up the Sky

Community Contributors Community Contributors Opinion: The Developers in Franklinton are Eating up the SkyA view of the 12-story Gravity II building in Franklinton in September 2021 with the Columbus skyline obscured behind it - Photo by Walker Evans
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Having spent early childhood in Franklinton, I am aware of its need for improvement. I moved away from Columbus, Ohio in my early twenties to seek an advertising career in Manhattan and then Los Angeles. I returned to my hometown, Columbus, in 2019 at the start of the pandemic with a sense of needing a respite from health challenges, a house fire and Covid-19 lockdown.

What I came back to was, a new vibrant Columbus, with Metro Parks in abundance. As I drove around the old neighborhoods, I parked on State Street to witness Mount Carmel West being demolished, along with the memories of my dying mother’s hospitalization there. The No.10 Firehouse extended its building to consume the house I grew up in on W. Gay Street. Nearby, the Bordon Dairy building on W. Broad Street had vanished along with the fond remembrance of free ice cream back in the day. Joyously, Avondale Elementary, where I attended kindergarten to second grade, stood strong still. My old Central High School was encompassed by the science deptartment and morphed into COSI! But sadly, remaining are many of the old houses, and vacant lots begging to be rid of crime in order to shed its old moniker, the ‘bottoms’. Driving around Franklinton gave me mixed feelings but also gave mixed views of what is happening here between the eras.

Franklinton was the founding settlement of the area in 1797 and is resettling itself again exactly 225 years after Lucas Sullivant navigated his compass and laid his rods on the ground. The old familiar places seem to be getting buried by big box shaped buildings devoid of character. Why do they all look the same and why are they all skyscrapers? I do seem to remember an ordinance that no building could tower over the Lincoln Leveque across the Scioto, an anomaly in its time. At least it was thinner at the top so we could see the sky. The sky in Franklinton is swiftly becoming a commodity.

Franklinton this year seems to have all the developers vying for space as I read online the various developers public building proposals. The latest being the 15-story tower on West Broad Street proposed directly across from the Landmark Holy Family Church and the historic Harrison House, where General William Henry Harrison planned his march north to win the War of 1812! The development owner for the 15-story tower is quoted as saying, “We worked to tie up the rest of the block, which really allows us to do something significant.” What? What is going on that we can’t seem to hold onto the ‘significant’ history of Franklinton?

I’ve lived in big cities and have seen what gets taken away from our history for the sake of the future. It’s not pretty. Let’s take this opportunity for redevelopment to include our unique rich history as a touchstone to give to future generations. Design with character and innovation, with a slant to what came before that only this area can provide… and hopefully think outside the big box buildings.

– Patricia Garling

Patricia Garling, a Columbus native, is an award-winning Art Director for motion picture arts, corporate and entertainment advertising. Having worked in NYC, Los Angeles, and now returning to live and work in Columbus, she is currently working on a noteworthy historical project. She is a board member of the Franklinton Historical Society.

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