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Eastmoor revitalization plan given green light by Council

Daily Reporter Staff Writer

Columbus City Council this week approved the Eastmoor Main and Broad Corridor Revitalization Plan, which will guide the redevelopment of those critical commercial corridors in coming years.

"I believe it's a great thing for Eastmoor and the city of Columbus," Councilwoman Maryellen O'Shaughnessy, chair of council's development committee, said of the plan.

The plan is the result of a joint effort between the city's "talented planning division" and "very keen" Eastmoor residents, she added.

Eastmoor was annexed to the city of Columbus in 1937. It is bounded by Bexley on the west, Whitehall on the east, Livingston Avenue to the south, and the CSX Railroad to the north.

Most of the houses in Eastmoor were built soon after World War II; commercial and institutional development followed.

The decline experienced along the segments of Main and Broad streets in Eastmoor is typical of old commercial corridors in several major U.S. cities, said Vince Papsidero, Columbus' planning administrator.

New commercial development generally follows housing construction, and as more and more people began moving to cities' suburbs during the mid-20th century, once-thriving thoroughfares were abandoned, he explained.

The Eastmoor Civic Association & Blockwatch has lobbied for the community's revitalization since 2004 and after appealing to city council and development officials, the neighborhood's rehabilitation was added to Columbus' 2005 docket of planning projects.

Community input on Eastmoor's good and bad physical characteristics was gathered last spring and two charrettes held in August 2006 focused on design solutions and implementation strategies.

The final Main and Broad Corridor Revitalization Plan was presented to the city's Development Commission on March 22 and was subsequently passed along to city council for adoption.

Planning issues of concern in Eastmoor center on increasing business vacancies, declining property conditions, changes in the types of businesses coming to the area, aesthetic matters like signage and landscaping, as well as crime and safety, the plan noted.

Ultimately, "the neighborhood's goal is the same as the city's: to revitalize and redevelop the area," Papsidero said. "And it will take a variety of strategies to make that happen."

The Main and Broad Corridor Revitalization Plan makes a number of economic restructuring recommendations and specifies key "opportunity sites" and concepts.

The recommendations for each corridor will help them "reflect the desires of adjacent neighborhoods" and "the economics of current property owners and businesses," according to the plan.

The first recommendation encourages smaller-scale retail, services, and office uses, as "regional-scale needs are met east of the planning area."

For Main Street, in particular, "the number of hotels must be reduced because under current economic circumstances they are attracting unwanted activities," the plan said.

Service-based businesses, such as child day care centers, medical and dental offices, and banks, are welcome in each business district, as are retail stores of various types.

On Broad Street, two locations ideal for varied retail activity are its three western blocks and the intersection of Broad and James Road, which the plan sited as the "heart of Eastmoor" as it is the entryway to the neighborhood from I-70 and Port Columbus International Airport.

Charrette participants specifically envisioned the intersection as the site of a higher density development such as the South Campus Gateway development near The Ohio State University.

In the short term, they suggested signage and facade improvements by the Columbus Neighborhood Design Center, a non-profit that provides affordable design and planning services to central city communities.

The three blocks of Main Street east of James Road also were selected for intense redevelopment and the plan recommends that existing businesses renovate their buildings or install new storefronts.

Other economic restructuring suggestions include capturing a large share of regional shoppers, enhancing the shopping experience through streetscape and COTA bus stop improvements, and creating a unique identity for each corridor.

Additional opportunity sites identified in the plan were the vacant parcel on Broad between Broadleigh Road and Chesterfield Street and the vacant apartments on Broad between Waverly Street and Weyant Avenue.

Both O'Shaughnessy and Papsidero said the Main and Broad corridor revitalization likely will come to fruition because the Eastmoor residents deeply support the plan, making them more invested in its success.

Establishing a Community Commercial Overlay District and addressing pressing capital needs will likely be the first steps in realizing the plan, O'Shaughnessy said.


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