As part of an ongoing process to revitalize one of the “most distressed” neighborhoods near Ohio State, Campus Partners for Community Urban Redevelopment announced Wednesday it will be working with developer Edwards Communities to revitalize part of the area around Weinland Park, Campus Partners president Amanda Hoffsis said.
“This is part of the process that has been under way for a while,” she said. “This isn’t a brand new thing — this is the next step in a series of improvements in that area.”
Since early October, Campus Partners — a private nonprofit corporation that works on community planning in the campus area alongside OSU and the city of Columbus — has been working to recreate more than 7 acres of the Weinland Park neighborhood. That area includes spaces east of High Street and south of 9th Avenue, including properties on the south side of 8th Avenue, Hoffsis said.
According to a Campus Partners press release, this project is the next step in bridging the gap between the University District and the Short North.
“We are very pleased to be moving forward with this phase of the effort to enhance the neighborhood and return productive space to the community,” Hoffsis said in the released statement.
Hoffsis said that area is considered distressed based on crime rates and declining home prices, however, she also said crime rates have been declining in the area and house prices have increased by about 10 percent lately.
Recently passed zoning gave Campus Partners a parameter of what is allowed to be built in that space, although no specific design plan has been chosen yet, Hoffsis said. Once a final design plan has been set, Campus Partners will sell that design to Edwards Communities.
“Our job, our goal is to put the parameters in place and to facilitate a design that would be supported by the community,” she said.
Hoffsis said the decision to partner with Ohio-based Edwards Communities was based on a number of factors, one of which was locale.
“It was important for us to pick someone local. We had a number of national firms who were very interested in the site, but we decided it would be important to partner with someone local,” Hoffsis said.
Edwards Communities has experience in both student housing and market rate apartments — the types of apartments that can be found in areas like the Arena District and Short North — which was also a part of Campus Partners’ decision to work with Edwards Communities, Hoffsis said.
Edwards Communities did not immediately respond to a phone call after hours Wednesday requesting comment on the deal.
According to the press release, Campus Partners is also working with Community Housing Network to relocate its existing apartments — currently located at 1494 N. High St. — to a new building set to be constructed in the same area as the development.
Over the next couple of weeks, Hoffsis said there will be meetings to hopefully set a preliminary concept of the design plan in a month or two.
Some students said the area — which some feel is unsafe — will benefit from Campus Partner’s efforts.
“(The efforts) can open up a lot more off-campus housing for a lot of students because a lot of students don’t even look over there because they think it’s not a good area,” said Michael Wade, a third-year in logistics management.
Stephanie Liskiewicz, a fourth-year in marketing, said a revitalization to the area definitely wouldn’t hurt.
“I think any additional businesses they can bring in is always good,” she said. “You could always use more housing for students and that sort of thing.”
Others like Armando Simpson, a first-year in business, said renovations would definitely make the area more attractive because it looks dangerous and abandoned as is.
“I wouldn’t go down there at nighttime,” he said.
Ingrid Gardner and Paul Ellis contributed to this story.