Before and After: The Near East Side Transformation




Given the popularity of the Weinland Park Before and After, I am finally getting around to posting this one for the Near East Side, which is a combination of Olde Towne East and King-Lincoln. Like Weinland Park, the NES has seen its fair share of struggles over the years, but unlike Weinland Park, its revitalization has been decades in the making. It has seen steady house-to-house renovations since at least the 1980s, and is now at the point where the pace of larger scale redevelopment is picking up. There are currently at least a dozen infill projects in the works, with even more renovations.

North Ohio Avenue
Before: 2009 North Ohio Avenue looking north.

After: 2017

2017

These photos don’t represent all that big a change, but it shows some of the infrastructure improvements going on around the neighborhood. This picture is just south of the Poindexter Place development on North Ohio Avenue. The photos show the addition of a multi-use path, new sidewalks and pavement. Bike lanes, which aren’t shown in the Google image, were also striped.

Poindexter Village
Before: 2009 North Ohio and Hawthorne, looking east.

After: 2017

Poindexter Village was the first large-scale public housing complex in Columbus, built back in the 1940s. All but 2 of the original buildings were torn down to make room for a redevelopment, called Poindexter Place. The last 2 buildings will become a museum. The change from 2009 to 2017 is drastic.

Before: 2009 Champion and Mt. Vernon, looking southeast.

2009

After: 2017

Before: 2011 Hawthorne Avenue looking north.

After: 2017

Before: 2009 Oak and 18th looking northwest

After: 2017

An example of some of the businesses that have moved into the neighborhood.

Before: 2015 Bryden and Garfield, looking northwest.

After: 2017

This is an example of the most common type of development within the Near East Side- the small-scale renovation.

Before: 2009 Long and 17th, looking southeast.

After: 2017

These photos show a mix of private and public development.

Pet Peeve: Renovation vs. Restoration




The other day, I was looking at real estate listings for the Near East Side, and noticed what I think is a very unfortunate trend- that many historic homes in the neighborhoods of Olde Towne East and King-Lincoln are being stripped of all their historic character in favor of a quick flip. These neighborhoods have some of the best historic housing in all of Columbus, even as the neighborhood has seen hundreds of teardowns particularly in the 1960s and 1970s during the Urban Renewal years. For a long time, the NES was being revitalized very slowly, with only piecemeal restorations of individual homes by private owners. This allowed many historic homes to be gradually restored. Here are some examples where I think the historic nature was largely respected:

1049 Franklin Avenue
This home, built in the 1890s, was updated in 2017.

Photo taken in 2010.


The 2010 photo of the 2-unit shows the home mostly intact, with really only some restoration needed, particularly for the porch area. The double porch is most likely not original to the house, which was likely a single-family home at one time.

Photo taken in 2018.


The 2018 shows a mostly unchanged look aside from a much nicer porch with appropriate color schemes and landscaping.
While I don’t have any old interior shots, the updated ones show consideration for the age of the home.



As these pictures show, the home has been updated without losing its character. Original hardwood floors have been restored, woodwork hasn’t all been whitewashed and details like built-ins and stained-glass windows remain intact.

248 South 17th Street
This single-family home from 1894 is another great example of a historic home being updated without extensive change.

Photo taken in 2010.


The 2010 photo shows the house needs some updated curb appeal, but not much else.

Photo taken in 2018.


In 2018, the exterior has only been lightly updated.



Again, the home has clearly been renovated, but it is also crystal clear that it’s a historic home.

So these are a few examples of the good, where the homes were respected for what they are.

Now let’s look at a few examples where the owners attempted to make the homes into something else, with minimal historic elements maintained or where the character of the homes was changed. These examples represent the majority of current renovations.

240 South 18th Street

Photo taken in 2010.


In the 2010 photo of this 1900, 2-unit home, the right unit is boarded up, but otherwise the exterior appears to be in great shape.

Photo taken in 2018.


In 2018, it appears that there has been virtually no change to the exterior.
The same cannot be said for the interior.



The renovation is not necessarily bad, but you get the feeling that the owner thought exposing brick somehow equals an appreciation for character. Instead, because the original floors, woodwork, doors, mantles, etc. have all been replaced, removed or covered up, it comes off less as a historic home, but more of an industrial loft that you might find Downtown. This is typical of the vast majority of renovations in the neighborhood. Historic character is an afterthought.

55 Hoffman Avenue
This early 1900s home has a unique exterior that was changed little between 2010 and 2018, other than receiving a new paint job and landscaping.

Photo taken in 2010.


Photo taken in 2018.




I feel like this renovation is somewhat a transition between the first set of homes and the 240 S. 18th example. The renovation is much more extensive than the first set, but not quite as bad as 240 S. 18th. However, it shows the popular use of whitewashing everything to make the interiors look modern. The historic character that remains is mostly maintained due to the configuration of walls and windows rather than anything specific about decoration or color choices.

The 2 homes above are not the worst, in that they maintain at least some historic elements even if they might have gone a little too far in the modern updating. The next examples are the Frankenstein monsters of the group, where the renovations basically gutted every last historic detail of the interiors, and even significantly altered the exteriors.

422 South Ohio Avenue
This late 1890s home was in very bad condition in 2010, as the photo shows The house had completely lost its original front porch, windows were missing and the home was a candidate for demolition.

Photo taken in 2018.


What?? The new porch looks like something taken from some mountain retreat with its oversized wooden beams. It looks completely inappropriate to the home. Yes, the house needed a new porch, but come on. It’s not only the wrong architecture, the color scheme clashes and comes across as tacky.
The interiors are even worse, in that they do not even try to match the exterior style.



Some rooms are heavily industrial, others are featureless and bland, and then there are others that look like the houses from the 2nd grouping, that maintain some historical elements. Now, given the poor state of this home several years ago, the interiors were probably heavily damaged and it was essentially a blank slate, but this design reeks of someone who didn’t quite know how to create any cohesive look.

505 Linwood Avenue
Now, this is not an old home, as it was built in 2017. So this is not a case of renovation or restoration at all. However, it falls into the Frankenstein category for simply not keeping with the architecture of the neighborhood at all.

Photo taken in 2017.


So what’s the style of this? It has some design elements of historic homes, like the punched out windows, but the exterior once again is designed like some kind of modern cabin. And then you have those ridiculous lion columns.


I honestly don’t hate the interior. It has a quirky, but interesting design. It just doesn’t seem to go with the outer look at all, and the whole thing seems so random.

Luckily, the last 2 examples are not the norm, but the rare exception. Still, the fact that most homes fall into the 2nd category is not encouraging. Many people may find no issue in that group. The renovations aren’t distasteful exactly, but to me, something is being lost in trying to turn these homes into the equivalent of a loft apartment rather than appreciating the elegance that a historic home offers. Once those original details are lost, they’re never coming back.

Neighborhood Profile #2: King-Lincoln

This week is Demographics week. First up, ACD’s second neighborhood profile, featuring the King-Lincoln District, Columbus’ historically African American cultural heart.

I was going to write a history for the area, but this video tells it better than I ever could.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_3L_gvqZnU

History aside, what I can do is provide a more detailed demographic picture from the past, present and possible future of the neighborhood.

Population

1930: 17,970
1940: 18,282
1950: 20,527
1960: 17,746
1970: 11,627
1980: 9,291
1990: 8,456
2000: 8,025
2010: 6,439

Population peaked around 1950, but during the 1950s began its long-term decline. Some might say this was a product of White Flight, but in this case, the neighborhood was already almost entirely non-White. The White Flight movement was more than just about racial demographic changes in neighborhoods, it was a factor of urban neglect. Just like in the rest of urban Columbus, King-Lincoln lost its urban appeal due to infrastructure deterioration, lack of city-focused leadership, decline of schools and increasing crime rates (among other things). One of the biggest blows to the area, just like what occurred with Olde Towne East to its south, was the construction of I-71 in the early 1960s. The highway cut the neighborhood off from Downtown, demolished hundreds of historic buildings, and allowed more people to effectively leave the neighborhood altogether. This is a good reason why the population dropped by almost 35% between 1960 and 1970.

The population loss rate had been slowing down each decade through 2000. During the 2000s, the city cleared out Poindexter Village, one of Columbus’ first public-housing projects and home to several hundred residents. This accounted for a very large chunk of the loss that occurred from 2000-2010 and why the loss increased during that time. The city is now tearing the complex down with plans for mixed-use development on the site. If not for this action by the city, it’s very likely that King-Lincoln would’ve had it’s lowest total population loss since the decline began in the 1950s.

Demographics
White
1990: 6.1%
2000: 6.2%
2010: 9.6%
Black
1990: 90.7%
2000: 87.7%
2010: 84.0%
Asian
1990: 2.4%
2000: 0.7%
2010: 0.5%
Hispanic
1990: 0.6%
2000: 1.1%
2010: 2.2%
Other
1990: 0.9%
2000: 5.4%
2010: 5.9%

% Change By Demographic for Each Decade
1990-2000
White: -3.7%
Black: -8.2%
Asian: -71.6%
Hispanic: +63.0%
Other: +501.4%
2000-2010
White: +24.5%
Black: -23.1%
Asian: -42.1%
Hispanic: +60.2%
Other: -11.8%

The demographics for the last 30 years show Hispanic and White populations are becoming an ever larger chunk of the neighborhood, while Asians have declined significantly. The African American population is still, by far, the largest demographic, but it too is on a long-term decline. This suggests a gradual gentrification of the neighborhood.

And what of the future of the area? Significant revitalization news has been coming out in recent months. As mentioned above, the 36-building Poindexter Village, long a hot spot for crime and concentrated poverty, is currently in the process of being torn down. The site will be replaced with residential, retail, office and arts space over time. A larger area plan was recently announced here: http://www.columbusunderground.com/pact-plans-165-million-strategic-redevelopment-for-near-east-side . The $165 million plan will focus on King-Lincoln’s main thoroughfares: East Long Street, Mount Vernon Avenue and Taylor Avenue. Increasing density with mixed-use development and revitalizing the commercial corridors is a big part of the plan, as well as infrastructure and green space improvement. Smaller developments include Homeports housing renovations http://www.columbusunderground.com/homeport-looks-to-increase-activity-on-long-street-in-king-lincoln-district-bw1, which have been very successful so far.

So while King-Lincoln has seen better days, the neighborhood is currently in transition. 5-10 years from now, the neighborhood should be radically changed, hopefully for the better. Its proximity to Downtown and other central neighborhoods give it a great advantage as the city has become fairly popular again.