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.

How I Would Redevelop Westland Mall

*Republished 1/21/2016.

Next up on the easy reposts is this Google Map I made about redeveloping the Westland Mall site. It was recently announced that Westland Mall will very likely be torn down sometime later this year, but the current owners have not yet given any details on a potential redevelopment plan. Here is the article about Westland’s imminent doom: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/12/09/Westland-Mall-uncertain-future.html

What I would like to see go into this huge site is a new neighborhood that employs a lot of urban-style characteristics. That means low to mid-rise mixed-use buildings that surround a large urban park. The buildings would contain ground floor retail with residential above. Offices, markets and hotel space would also be included in the new neighborhood. The buildings would front both West Broad and Georgesville Road. New multi-use paths would connect this development to existing paths on Georgesville and to the miles-long Camp Chase Trail along the railroad tracks near Sullivant and Georgesville. The main central park would have playground space, a ball field or two, and perhaps even a small pond. Bike lanes would go throughout, along with wide sidewalks for potential restaurant and retail patio space. Basically, this would be like the West Side’s version of the Bridge Park development in Dublin. Read more about that project here: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/business/2015/09/15/Dublin-bridge-park-project-underway.html This would end up being a hugely transformative project for the West Side in a way that the new casino never could be. I suspect, however, that the developer will go with some kind of single-story, single-use big box retail concept like a Walmart, along with fast food outlets near West Broad. Hopefully, that is not the case and they are more forward thinking.

So here is the map I made on the general idea of what I think should happen: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zjN5g-xqXg7o.kzt8Is9kvs04&usp=sharing

In the past, I have made similar redevelopment maps for other areas. Check them out too!
Arena District West: http://allcolumbusdata.com/?p=2243
Southeast Downtown: http://allcolumbusdata.com/?p=2152

Before and After Google Special: 2007-Present Part 1

Columbus has been changing so quickly the past several years and it’s easy to forget just what the city used to look like in the not so distant past. Let’s take a look!

First up…
Brewery District

Location: App. 507 S. Front Street
Date: July 2007

Same location in August 2015.

Location: App. 546 S. High Street
Date: July 2007

Same Location in August 2015.

Location: W. Sycamore and S. High Street, looking southwest.
Date: July 2007

Same location in August 2015.

Location: 570 S. Front Street
Date: July 2007

Same location in August 2015.

Location: The Clarmont Site, App. 687 S. High Street.
Date: July 2007

Same location in August 2015.

Location: Short Street and W. Livingston Avenue, facing southeast.
Date: July 2007

Same location in August 2015.

Location: App. 299 W. Whittier Street, facing north.
Date: July 2007

Same location in August 2014. Now Scioto Audubon Metro Park.

Link of the Day: The Columbus Land Bank

The Columbus Land Bank got started back in 1994 to address vacant land and properties, but more specifically, the worst of the worst. Over the years, the number of properties on the list has grown into the hundreds as the city bought the properties to either renovate what could be renovated, or to demolish those that could not be saved and were contributing to the decline of surrounding neighborhoods.

The city provides a few links where these properties can be searched for and purchased. The properties are in various stages of decline and are being sold only to those qualified to renovate the properties or replace them with new development. Many of them are in urban locations, and most of the houses are old, with many retaining elements of their original architecture. In most cases, they need major to moderate rehabs, however. Given the rise of urban living lately and the rapid pace of revitalization happening throughout urban Columbus, these properties maintain some inherent value despite what their overall condition may be.

The first link is an interactive map where you can search for properties. It’s a great resource where you can search by address, street or area. You can also apply to buy properties if you are so inclined.
https://public-cbus.epropertyplus.com/landmgmtpub/app/base/propertySearch

The second link is a list of for-sale property highlights. This list is updated through the last 90 days.
http://columbus.gov/landredevelopment/listings/

Take a look!

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.