Before and After: March 2013 Edition


Photo taken looking north along South Central Avenue in Franklinton during the flood of January 21-24, 1959.


Present day South Central Avenue in Franklinton.

The 1959 flood was the 2nd worst in the history of Franklinton, after the 1913 disaster. The Frank Road crest on the Scioto River came on January 22, 1959 and was 27.22 ft, 3.22 ft above flood stage and a few feet below the 1913 crest. This crest would not cause serious flooding in Franklinton today, as the Franklinton Floodwall, completed in 2004, will protect the area to crests of up to 30.9 ft. Few people know that, prior to the wall’s completion, federal guidelines prohibited almost all types of construction in Franklinton, a huge reason for the gradual decline it faced after the 1950s.


Avondale Elementary at 157 Avondale Avenue in 1908.


Avondale Elementary, present day. The school was built in 1892.

Avondale Elementary has been a school for its entire 121 year existance. Besides losing it’s rootop finials, the school is largely unchanged and is a beautiful example of late 19th century architecture.


Bellows Avenue school in 1922.


The 1905 school in the present day.

Bellows Elementary was opened in 1905 and was used for that purpose through the 1970s. The building was last renovated in 1972, but was closed as a school between that year and 1984, when Columbus Public Schools sold the property. It has changed hands a few times over the years, the last being in 2002, but nothing has come of it and the building deteriorates a bit more each year. Unfortunately, the location of the school probably proved to be its death, as the interchange of 315 and 70/71 was constructed just to the south, and 315 itself cut off Bellows Avenue. The school narrowly escaped the wrecking ball at that time, but without some type of redevelopment, the property may eventually be lost anyway.


The Columbus Heating and Ventilation Company at 433 W. Town Street on March 25, 1913, during the infamous flood.

The same building 3 years later in 1916, looking a bit spruced up as well as the newer roads that were no doubt damaged in 1913.


And 433 W. Town Street as it looked in 2010. The building was torn down the following year.

The Columbus Heating and Ventilating Company began in 1903 and still exists in the city, although obviously not at its original location. The old building went into severe disrepair and most of the roof had collapsed by the time it was demolished in 2011 as one of the first steps in the area’s rebirth. The area is going through revitalization, and the nearby 400 W. Rich artist live and work space continues to expand. Plans are also in the works for new loft apartments nearby.

In-Planning Project- 2014 and Beyond- Scioto Peninsula

The history of the Scioto Peninsula in not really all that positive. Bounded by 315 to the west and on all other sides by the Scioto River directly across from Downtown, this area currently contains Veteran’s Memorial, COSI and not much else. Even as far back as the 1950s, a large chunk of the peninsula, especially around Central High School (which still exists as COSI), was just vacant land. Otherwise, what existed were warehouse buildings and other commercial buildings. What people lived there were mostly confined to a few public housing projects. Being so close to the Scioto River, the area repeatedly flooded over its history, especially in the Great Flood of 1913 and to a lesser extent in 1959. This prevented much development here and in Franklinton in general. Federal standards were actually in place that banned most new construction or even renovations to most types of buildings. This allowed all of Franklinton, including the Peninsula, to stagnate and go through steady decline.

Help was coming, however, in the form of a giant floodwall. Conceived as far back as the 1980s, the Franklinton Floodwall would not be completed until 2004. It took another 4-5 years before people began to seriously look at the area for redevelopment and then for that development to actually start taking place. Eastern Franklinton, so far, has been the focal point of that redevelopment, and a big project to help tie in Downtown with the neighborhood is the planned redevelopment of the Peninsula.

Almost all the buildings that existed in the ’50s are now gone, even the housing projects. COSI uses much of the land for parking, as does Veteran’s Memorial. The rest is grassy lots primed for redevelopment. Some projects have already taken place. The two new Downtown bridges at Main and Rich Streets provide a nice access onto the Peninsula, along with the Broad Street bridge. A 4th, a planned pedestrian bridge, will be located on the north end crossing from Vet’s Memorial to North Bank Park in the Arena District. This bridge is probably still a few years off, as there is another, large project planned. The low-head dams along the Scioto River in the Downtown area are going to be removed, starting sometime next year. This will lower the river level and create a more natural flowing waterway. It will also create acres of new riverfront parkland that new paths and landscaping will be added to. This will create an inviting, park setting to both sides of the river.

The Peninsula has been planned for redevelopment several times in the last 30 years, but there was a lack of momentum for urban projects for decades and no serious plans ever seemed to emerge. That was until the last 10 years, starting in 2002 with the first Downtown development plan by Mayor Coleman and the city. A new version was released in 2010 and contained a dozen projects planned to help Downtown become a destination again. While the Scioto Peninsula was not specifically mentioned, fixing the riverfront was. That’s where Scioto Mile park came from and is now a very popular spot for residents. With all this momentum, the Peninsula needed a serious plan. Right now, meetings are taking place and a development plan is now in the early stages. Some early ideas include a lot of residential, retail and entertainment space, along with a more interactive riverfront and even a transit station for light rail. The first draft of the plan is likely to be released in 2013 and construction could begin as early as 2014.

This is the area for redevelopment, bounded by the railroad tracks to the west and the river to the east.  The large skinny building is COSI, and the large building to the north is Veteran's Memorial.

This is the area for redevelopment, bounded by the railroad tracks to the west and the river to the east. The large skinny building is COSI, and the large building to the north is Veteran’s Memorial.