Columbus' near west side -- the "first" Columbus as it is called by some -- is getting a major new development that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
Franklinton, which is now an "area" of Columbus, is slated for a $23 million development that will turn two former industrial sites and a vacant lot into condos, apartments and artists' studios. Announced yesterday by a bevvy of city officials, it would not have been possible without the building of the Franklinton Flood Wall. The wall was conceived more than 20 years ago, but was not completed until around 2004. The Franklinton area has not seen any new development, nor redevelopment, pretty much ever. Insurers would not write policies for the area because it lay in the Scioto River flood plain. But the wall changed that. This project is the first of what is expected to be many development projects in Franklinton, an area occasionally known as "The Bottoms."
Helping kick off the privately funded development is a requst from City Council to approve $175,000 worth of state environmental-cleanup grants for an assessment of pollution at the former home of B&T Metals Co., which once employed 500 people at 435 W. Town Street. In addition, the project is in a neighborhood where condominium buyers will be eligible for 10- to 15-year property-tax abatements. The project will include artists' studios, gallery space, a small theater and retail and office space. A nearby vacant lot will become a small park where sculptors' work will be displayed.
Franklinton was the Ohio village on the Scioto River where early Ohio leaders stood and envisioned a state capitol on the opposite shore. That city, Columbus, was built. Keep your eye on this project. While some of the players are sketchy, it could prove to be a winner for investors, developers and the city, alike.