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Southern Gateway Initiative Launched to Benefit South Side Neighborhoods

Walker Evans Walker Evans Southern Gateway Initiative Launched to Benefit South Side NeighborhoodsBlighted homes along E. Markison Avenue. Photo by Anne Evans.
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This morning, a group of city and community leaders announced the launch of the Southern Gateway Initiative, designed to improve the quality of life for the South Side of Columbus. The initiative includes new housing, health and wellness facilities, and upgraded neighborhood infrastructure. Additionally, the former Reeb Elementary School, located at 280 East Reeb Avenue, was announced as transforming into a new center for community gathering and the delivery of neighborhood services.

“Reeb Elementary will be the focal point of both public investment by the City of Columbus and private investment by the South Side Champions, a group of citizens who will invest millions of their own money to bring back the South Side,” Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman. “Together we can and will improve the quality of life for these residents.”

Reeb will be renovated to house the South Side Learning and Development Center, the South Side Pride Center, and Community Development for All People. It will also be home to a new cultural heritage and arts programming center and a neighborhood community gathering space. Meanwhile, the South Side Settlement House has been deemed beyond repair and will be demolished.

The neighborhoods that are defined within the Southern Gateway area are bound by High Street on the West, Morrill Avenue on the North, Parsons Avenue on the East, and Hosack Street on the South. The boundaries essentially include both Hungarian Village and the Reeb-Hosack neighborhood.

The initiative was first announced during the 2012 State of the City Address on February 29th, where it was said that the group of South Side Champions would be spearheading this project. Today’s launch event was kicked off by community leaders including Donatos Pizza founder Jim Grote, City Council President Andrew J. Ginther, Community Development for All People Executive Director John Edgar, multiple South Side neighborhood, residents and business leaders, as well as the aforementioned Mayor Coleman. Additional support comes from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, United Way of Central Ohio, The Columbus Foundation, Franklin County and other organizations.

Collectively, the group of Champions have raised $5.7 million to date for the initiative over the past year. The City of Columbus is also investing $18 million into neighborhood efforts which includes:

  • Grants provided to rehabilitate 50 homes in addition to 50 new homes that will be built on vacant lots for new families.
  • The city will break ground on the John Maloney Health and Wellness Center in the coming weeks and will provide, with its partners, a new program to help Southern Gateway families to connect with health and social services, including immunizations, screenings, health education and family planning.
  • Nine streets in and around the Southern Gateway are being resurfaced and three electricity circuits in the neighborhood are being repaired or replaced.

“While the South Side has taken its hits, we have never given up the fight,” said Council President Andrew J. Ginther. “Today is another step forward in the revitalization of this proud neighborhood, and a testament to the people who live, work and serve the South Side.”

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