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Civic group working on initiative to redevelop Broad, Main corridors
Thursday, August 10, 2006
By INA HORWITZ-WHITMORE
ThisWeek Staff Writer
Eastmoor's future likely will include a significant amount of commercial development, according to Heidi Samuel, president of the Eastmoor Civic Association & Blockwatch.
In spring 2006, the civic group obtained official partnering assistance from the Columbus planning division to develop a commercial corridor overlay for both Broad and Main streets, between Bexley and Whitehall. More specifically, the corridor area is bordered by Gould Road on the west and Barnett Road on the east.
Columbus is providing planning tools, staff and resources to assist the east side in a revitalization effort that begins with the creation of commercial-corridor overlays.
This effort was sought as a more comprehensive approach to addressing crime and depressed economic conditions in the two east Columbus streetscapes for decades, Samuel said.
The process involves Vince Papsidero, administrator of Columbus' planning division, and his staff, as well as input and interest of development offices in Bexley and Whitehall.
Change is expected through a multi-community effort, comprised of businesses, residential and commercial property owners, Samuel said.
The project also is supported by Columbus City Council member Maryellen O'Shaughnessy, chairwoman of the city's economic development committee, and council member Mary Jo Hudson, chairwoman of the city's work-force development committee.
"This step-by-step, multi-east-side community effort is being pursued to raise the standards and to set in motion the types of changes needed to help protect and revitalize the Columbus segment of these corridors at the same time Bexley continues to improve its streetscapes and Whitehall spurs economic development," Samuel said.
The Peacekeepers Civic Association, Kingston/Mound/Kellner Blockwatch and North Harding Homeowners Association also are active partners in the effort.
"It's important that Columbus recognize the opportunity and maintain pace with the new development occurring in the neighboring cities of Bexley and Whitehall," Samuel said. "Otherwise, it's a costly long-term liability, not only to the city of Columbus but to the neighboring municipalities of Bexley and Whitehall who are impacted by the negative perception that comes from a dirty, disjointed streetscape in their back yard."
She continued: "The condition of these corridors, particularly along Main Street, reflects a deteriorated landscape, straining remaining legitimate small and family-owned businesses. The scarred landscape of the pockmark-style development you see today on either corridor is because of outdated land use, a void in basic guidelines for design and development and lack of attention or a plan."
After I-70 was built, these two heavily traveled routes were somewhat abandoned by business travelers who were served by these corridors. Yet neither of these routes has been reassessed or planned for the shift in the new way the corridors are used. Efforts are under way to address that, according to Samuel.
Samuel said corridor overlay proponents realize it's taken 40 to 50 years for the landscape and cycle of deterioration to spin out of control and that it's going to take a while to get it back.
"But it will happen," she said. "Change has to begin somewhere. This is not an overnight project; this is the first step in effecting the kinds of changes we see are needed to properly reflect the potential and caliber of a great area of town."
The city's planning division, in partnership with the Eastmoor Civic Association, is leading a series of workshops aimed at determining stakeholder demand. The second set of workshops will include exploring major issues of concern identified at the first round of meetings and exploring shopping patterns of the local community. A third set of workshops will involve reviewing the consensus.
"We will be looking to present the planning document reflecting the results of these intensive workshops to Columbus City Council for approval later this year," Samuel said.
A charrette (a design-planning session) for the Broad Street corridor was scheduled for Aug. 8 at Fairmoor Presbyterian Church, 360 S. James Road. A session on the Main Street corridor is slated for 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15, at the church. Attendees will examine streetscape improvements, such as identity, walkability, gateways and street furniture and ornaments.
Bexley development director Bruce Langner said he will attend the sessions. "Obviously, our intent is to improve Bexley's gateways," he said, pointing to Broad and Gould streets and Pump House Park. "What Eastmoor is doing will fit into our concept. Whatever they do will be better for Bexley, as well. You don't want the distinct feeling of moving from one area to another. We'll do whatever we can to help them achieve it. It's very worthwhile."
The meeting topics will include the marketing aspect: Where people shop or dine, inside or outside the area and why. Certain questions are expected to be part of the discussion, such as: What would you like to see along Broad/Main? Where do you shop most along the corridor?
"We will look to development assistance and incentives from the city to draw businesses and investment commitment," Samuel said. "Developers aren't going to invest unless the conditions are right, until there is a commitment from the city. The conditions aren't right, so we're looking to change them to make them attractive."
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