Saturday, July 31, 2010

New York Times tells Columbus: "Get a better slogan"

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There May Be ‘No Better Place,’ but There Is a Better Slogan

Past branding efforts like “Discover Columbus” and “Surprise, It’s Columbus” have fizzled and failed to lure tourists to the city, which boasts “the most accurate replica” of the Santa Maria, one of Christopher Columbus’s ships.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Quick, what do you think about when you hear the words “Columbus, Ohio”?

Still waiting. ... And that’s the problem that civic leaders here hope to solve.

This capital city in the middle of a state better known, fairly or not, for cornfields and rusting factories has a low cost of living, easy traffic and a comparatively robust economy. It variously has been pronounced to have the nation’s best zoo, best science museum and best public library. For sports fans, “Ohio State Buckeyes” says it all.

This capital city in the middle of a state better known, fairly or not, for cornfields and rusting factories has a low cost of living, easy traffic and a comparatively robust economy. It variously has been pronounced to have the nation’s best zoo, best science museum and best public library. For sports fans, “Ohio State Buckeyes” says it all.

What Columbus does not have, to the despair of its leaders, is an image. As home to major research centers, it has long outgrown its 1960s self-concept as a cow town, and its distinction as the birthplace of the Wendy’s hamburger chain does not quite do the trick these days. The city lacks a shorthand way to sell itself — a signature like the Big Apple or an intriguing tagline like Austin’s “Live Music Capital of the World.”

As a result, those working to attract new companies, top professors, conventions and tourists have a hard time explaining how Columbus differs from dozens of other cities that likewise claim to be livable, progressive and fun.

“Columbus has not had a bad image,” said Paul Astleford, director of Experience Columbus , which promotes tourism and conventions. “It has just had no image in the national marketplace.”

And so, just as the Scarecrow searched for a brain and the Tin Man a heart, Columbus has embarked on a multiyear quest to define the city’s soul.

At least six earlier branding efforts over the last half-century fizzled out with anodyne slogans like “Discover Columbus” and “Surprise, It’s Columbus.” Currently, the Chamber of Commerce declares “There’s No Better Place.” But this time, three years into their inner journey, city leaders expect to succeed by drawing the whole population into the process and teasing out shared points of pride.

How do you stoke the imagination of outsiders and the enthusiasm of residents? Columbus, starting from relative obscurity, has found that you cannot just hire an advertising agency, like New York and Las Vegas did, and come up with a slogan. It needs to find something real and heartfelt to trumpet, a task force of business, educational, political and arts leaders here concluded. One model they have studied is Indianapolis, which raised its profile by describing itself as the amateur athletic capital of America.

“No consistent image or qualities come to mind when people think about Columbus,” lamented Doug Kridler, director of the Columbus Foundation and a leader of the task force. The city must develop “a messaging mooring-post that different groups can use to describe our authentic strengths,” Mr. Kridler said.

So what core message might everyone from the mayor to college recruiters be broadcasting one day?

Sports can hardly be ignored in a city that is crazed by Big Ten football, but the city’s high proportion of college students and researchers, its civic engagement and its diversity of opportunities may be even more salable traits, task force members say. How many cities can boast of having one of the largest county fairs and also one of the largest gay pride parades?

“We are a diverse, youthful, knowledge-based community that is open to new ideas coming in,” Mr. Astleford said. “That has not been the tradition in the Midwest.”

Alex Fisher, director of the Columbus Partnership, which works to bring jobs, said the city needs to let people know that as a financial and insurance center it should not be lumped in with the Rust Belt. “We need to make sure we aren’t so bashful, with Midwestern modesty,” Mr. Fisher said. “Candidly, we believe we are one of the brightest stars in Ohio’s future.”

Task force members have been sworn to secrecy until they reach a consensus, sometime next year. But do not expect them to use what one wag proposed, according to The Columbus Dispatch, at a recent meeting:

“Columbus: We Are So Not Ohio.”

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Columbus Food Adventures leads tours to hot culinary destinations

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On Restaurants

Good-eats guide

Columbus Food Adventures leads tours to hot culinary destinations

Tuesday, July 27, 2010
02:51 AM

By Denise Trowbridge


One Columbus Food Adventures tour takes participants to some of the high points of the Short North. During a stop at Le Chocoholique are, from left, tour guide Bethia Woolf,  Beth Ervin of Columbus and Kari Kauffman of Gahanna.
One Columbus Food Adventures tour takes participants to some of the high points of the Short North. During a stop at Le Chocoholique are, from left, tour guide Bethia Woolf, Beth Ervin of Columbus and Kari Kauffman of Gahanna.

Columbus loves to eat, if the number of restaurants and food venues in the city is any indication.

But now, there's a business built around showcasing its culinary hot spots.

Bethia Woolf, left, talks to Knead restaurant owner Krista Lopez as members of a Columbus Food Adventures tour group sample a seasonal vegetable frittata.
Bethia Woolf, left, talks to Knead restaurant owner Krista Lopez as members of a Columbus Food Adventures tour group sample a seasonal vegetable frittata.

Columbus Food Adventures has just begun taking locals and tourists on walking and van tours to local eateries.

"A lot of other cities have food tours, and Columbus has just as much to show off," said Bethia Woolf, who started the venture. "We have fantastic artisan producers and chefs, and if cities like Milwaukee and Raleigh-Durham have tours, we should have one, too."

The core of Columbus Food Adventures is three themed food adventures. The first is a 1.5-mile walking tour of the Short North, featuring food from Knead, Le Chocoholique, Tasi Cafe, Rigsby's Kitchen, and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. The second is a taco truck tour, by van, which takes participants to West Side taco trucks. Ethnic cuisine is the focus of the third, which involves a van tour that includes Vietnamese and Somali restaurants along Cleveland Avenue.

"Each tour encompasses some of our favorite places," Woolf said. "Our goal is to highlight the best of Columbus."

Each tour costs between $45 and $60, and lasts about three hours.

The price includes a sampling of food at each stop on the tour, which, by the end, is equivalent to eating a full meal. Drinks aren't included. The tour involves more than food, Woolf said. It includes a lot of information about food, culture, history and chefs, as well.

Woolf, the guide on all the Columbus Food Adventure tours, is uniquely suited to the task. She is a former expedition leader who was once responsible for logistics, food and transportation on expeditions to the Himalayas.

Columbus Food Adventures is the brainchild of Woolf and her boyfriend, Andy Dehus. Woolf has long been a fan of food, sharing her views about the Columbus restaurant scene since 2008 in her three blogs: Alt Eats Columbus, Hungry Woolf and Taco Trucks Columbus. Dehus is an interior designer, specializing in retail and restaurant spaces.

The interest in Columbus cuisine turned from a hobby into an idea for a business last summer, when she was laid off from her job as a rowing coach at Ohio State University. "If I hadn't been unemployed, I wouldn't have taken the plunge," she said. "It's a lot easier to jump into something when you don't have to give up a job or security to get started.

"My friends had always told me that I should do this," she said. "I dismissed it at first, but the idea was always in the back of my mind."

Woolf realized the idea had real potential after she organized a tour of taco trucks on the West Side and publicized it on her blog. So many people showed up, she said, that it was clear that "people were really enthusiastic about the idea."

Culinary tours are fairly popular in big cities such as New York, Chicago and San Francisco, but many smaller cities also have successful tours, including Scottsdale, Ariz.; Milwaukee and Savannah, Ga.

More Columbus Food Adventures tours are in the works, including a German Village walking tour, an ice cream tour and possibly a historic restaurants tour.

"It's fun, because the more you get into it, the more you realize how many things there are to show off," Woolf said.

Sugar Bar redo

Park Street is getting another makeover.

The Sugar Bar, 525 N. Park St., closed July 4 and will reopen as the Park Street Saloon sometime in September. CGS Group, the owner, is completely remodeling the space and transforming it into an 8,000-square-foot restaurant and bar with a Chicago burlesque theme. The restaurant will serve a menu of American food such as hamburgers, pastas and pizza, as well as a selection of 25 appetizers. The CGS Group also owns the former Spice Bar, 491 Park St., which was recently transformed into Park Street Cantina, a Mexican-themed bar and restaurant.

Wheels on the bus

The Columbus Landmarks Association will host historic tavern bus tours on Aug. 19 and 26 from 6 to 9p.m. The tour will make stops at several of Columbus' oldest bars, which were hot spots for the city's 19th-century Irish and German immigrants. The Flatiron, Hey Hey Bar & Grill and Columbus Maennerchor are included in the tour.

A driving tour of the Brewery District is also included. Tickets are $15 per person, and reservations are required. For reservations or more information, go to .

Junk e-mail for charity

Chipotle wants your junk e-mail. The Denver-based chain will donate $100,000 to the Lunch Box, a nonprofit that helps school systems incorporate more healthful food and recipes into their school lunch program, if its customers forward a total of 1million junk e-mails to by Sunday.

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[Columbus] Ohio heartland now home to distillery and winery

Congratulations to my Facebook friend, Brady Konya
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Ryan Lang is a fourth-generation distiller and proud of it.

Do the math, and somebody in that family line must have run into the long governmental arm of Prohibition.

"My grandmother Nellie was a rum runner and went to jail for a while," Lang says of his family then in Williamsburg, Pa. "They made everything - apple jack, white lightning. I learned a little bit (about distilling) from my grandfather - and where he hid all the stuff."

Michael Elmer (left) says he has achieved his dream job at Via Vecchia Winery.

Now settled in Columbus, Lang continues the family business with his partner in vodka, Brady Konya. But it's all legal, sanctioned by a rare license from the Ohio liquor board to both manufacture spirits and sell them onsite at Middle West Spirits.

Brady Konya (pictured) and Ryan Lang carefully distill the tastiest vodka they can at Middle West Spirits in Columbus.
Middle West Spirits has renovated an old transmission repair shop into its distillery. Plans are to add solar panels.

"Ryan brings street cred to the business," Konya says. "And that long line of distillers was part of our inspiration."

Middle West is just one reason to raise a toast in the capital this summer. The distillery is joined by a relocated Via Vecchia Winery in Columbus' historic downtown Brewery District.

Middle West Spirits

Lang and Konya launched Middle West on July 1 in a converted transmission repair shop on the north edge of Columbus' Short North district. They sold out their inaugural run of OYO vodka at $34.95 per hand-numbered, hand-waxed bottle that first weekend. Now they're encouraging drinkers to request OYO in their cocktails and at liquor stores.

Both men are transplants to Ohio, Lang from a career in engineering and industrial manufacturing in North Carolina, Konya from work in advertising and product development in Seattle.

They jumped into the local foods movement with gusto: they use soft red winter wheat from northeast Ohio farms; applied a stylized state tree, the Buckeye, to their bottles; and christened their brand a version of the Iroquois name for Ohio, OYO.

They pronounce OYO as "Oh WHY OH," which pays homage to the Ohio State University call and response cheer, "OH - IO."

Beyond the initial run of vodka, Middle West is looking toward infused vodkas this fall, "where we can highlight regional fruits and produce," Konya says. "We can have local supply chains."

One secret to their streamlining production to eight days is a sparkling new Kothe pot-and-column distiller from Germany, which Konya says is the first vodka-specific distillation system in the U.S.

Middle West's new still can do the equivalent of 37 distillations in one run, preserving flavor along the way. Even so, Lang selects only about 10 percent of each batch to be bottled, rejecting the rest.

"We go for the hearts of the run, the nectar in the middle of the batch that's sweet and pure," Konya says.

The resulting OYO, Lang claims, is a vodka that "you can sip - alone - and not add anything to it."

Via Vecchia Winery

Via Vecchia in Columbus' old German Brewery District is where wine meets beer.

Partners Michael Elmer, Marty Huster and Paolo Rosi have renovated an 1880s brick brewery warehouse into a multipurpose fermentation area, events center and weekend wine-tasting spot. They'll pour the four Via Vecchia vintages they've been making since the pals stomped their first grapes in Rosi's basement in Powell, Ohio, in 2005.

Via Vecchia is "the old way" in Italian, and that's precisely what the trio wants to preserve.

They buy grapes from California, then blend in the minimum amount of sulfites. The urban vintners add no yeast, sugar, coloring, enzymes or preservatives, relying on the sediment in the wine and the phases of the moon to filter the wine naturally.

"We get a lot of push-back from wineries in Ohio because we bring in grapes from out of state," Elmer says. "We tell them we're an Old World winery that just happens to be in Ohio."

The four Via Vecchia wines tend to follow natural progression of the seasons: Adamo is spring-light, from a blend of sangiovese and cabernet franc grapes. Trovato is a summery light red wine from sangiovese and pinot noir grapes. Autumn is represented by Jorro-ma, a rich syrah, and winter by Trouve, a full-bodied cab blended from cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot whole grapes. All the wines sell for $24.99 a bottle; reserves are $39.99.

The partners will pour their wines in tastings set for 6-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday evenings. Tasters can pair the wine with antipasto from Sidari in Cleveland, then round out the mini-meal with Columbus' own Crimson Cup coffee and Sugardaddy brownies.

The winery is a no-debt, pay-as-you-go proposition, so the owners and their families scrub, paint and tile as part of their sweat equity.

Brick peeks through old plaster on the barrel room wall, and a disco ball from the warehouse's nightclub days still hovers over the studio. .

They painted and tiled around the original limestone foundations and cast-iron pillars, but "we want to keep it somewhat raw, because it is a warehouse," Elmer says. "It's got to have that industrial feel."

Their space went from 1,400 square feet in Rosi's basement to 8,300 square feet in the old Hosters Brewery warehouse. The new digs will allow Via Vecchia to double production to a projected 10,000 bottles this year.

The Via Vecchia partners intend to paint over the scarlet-and-gray Ohio State colors on the outside, but they're working on the inside for now.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

NEW Home Sales Jump From Record Low

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Sales of new homes jumped last month, but it was the second-weakest month on record, the the Commerce Department said Monday. The lackluster economy has made potential buyers skittish about shopping for homes.

A 'sold' sign stands in front of a home in Lebanon, Pa.

New home sales rose nearly 24 percent in June from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 330,000. May's number was revised downward to a rate of 267,000, the slowest pace on records dating back to 1963. Sales for April and March were also revised downward.

High unemployment, low job growth, and tight credit have kept people from buying homes. The industry received a boost this spring when the government offered tax credits to homebuyers. But since they expired in April, the number of people looking to buy has dropped, even with the lowest mortgage rates in decades available.

"There's no question that this is a weak number, but it seems to be more stable," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group. "The bottom line to all of this is that we need more jobs."

Sales are down 72 percent from their peak annual rate of 1.39 million in July 2005. More than 600,000 new homes sold per year from 1983 through 2007. After the housing bubble popped, sales plunged to 375,000 last year. That was the weakest yearly total on records dating back to 1963.

New homes sales made up about 7 percent of the housing market last year. That's down from about 15 percent before the bust.

Weak sales mean fewer jobs in the construction industry, which normally power economic recoveries. Each new home built creates, on average, the equivalent of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes paid to local and federal authorities, according to the National Association of Home Builders. The impact is felt across multiple industries.

Builders have sharply scaled back construction in the face of a severe housing market bust. The number of new homes up for sale in March fell 1.4 percent to 210,000, the lowest level in nearly 42 years.

Due to the sluggish sales pace, it would still take eight months to exhaust that supply. That's above a healthy level of about six months.

The median sales price in June was $213,400. That was down 0.6 percent from a year earlier and down 1.4 percent from May.

New home sales rose by 46 percent in the Northeast, 33 percent in the South and 21 percent in the Midwest. The West posted a nearly 7 percent decline.

"One month doesn't make a trend and the roadblocks to a healthy housing market are high, the most important one being the still-high jobless rate," wrote BMO Capital Markets economist Jennifer Lee in a note to clients. "But with borrowing costs at record lows, prices also remaining low, those with jobs who can afford a home may be enticed."

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Columbus Food Adventures --Taco Truck Tour

Columbus Food Adventures - Taco Truck Tour from Mike Beaumont on Vimeo.

Great idea.....I want to get a group together.
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Taco trucks serve up far more than just tacos, and nobody knows Columbus’s expansive taco truck scene better than Columbus Food Adventures. This van tour will explore the taco trucks of west side, taking you to some of our favorites and providing you with the best of Mexican food in Columbus. Each stop includes a tasting, and the tour is structured with an emphasis on individual truck specialties as well as the diversity of regional cuisine found at these trucks.
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Friday, July 23, 2010

Outcry by residents in Clintonville sinks COTA turnaround plan

Friday, July 23, 2010 02:51 AM


COTA buses on N. High Street will have to turn around somewhere else.

Facing pressure from Clintonville residents, the board of the Central Ohio Transit Authority unanimously turned down a proposal last night to transform a fully occupied N. High Street strip
mall into a turnaround for buses.

"We are ecstatic," said D Searcy, chairwoman of the Clintonville Area Commission. "I'm so happy for the businesses that won't have to go."

The decision came after an hour-long presentation by COTA President Bill Lhota, who read a list of residents' objections to the plan to purchase and develop the land at N. High Street and Kanawha Avenue for $2.3 million.

The proposal failed primarily because COTA didn't involve residents enough in the decision, Lhota said after the meeting.

The mall's neighbors said they learned about the proposal only weeks ago, but COTA officials have been seeking a new location for a turnaround for two years.

"I will be the first to admit that, looking back, we did not manage the public-involvement process as well as we could have," Lhota told more than 60 neighbors who came to the meeting. "I have no excuses for that. We did not do a good job."

Buses will continue turning around at Graceland Shopping Center, where they have for years, while officials search for a new location. But shopping center owner Casto has told COTA that as the center develops, it will not be able to accommodate buses, Lhota said. At any time, Casto could give the authority 30 days' notice to stop using its property.

Before voting at last night's meeting, many board members noted that they had received a barrage of calls, e-mails and letters in recent weeks urging them to shoot down the proposal.

"I just don't think that the purchase of this property at this point is the right plan for COTA," said Linda Mauger, chairwoman of the board.

Still, Lhota defended much of the proposal and countered claims that it would be a noise nuisance and that it would clog the area's narrow roads.

After the meeting, Lhota said officials likely would review other properties they've considered.

The bottom line, Mauger said, is that the authority needs to find a new location.

"We still need to be able to turn the buses around."

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

30-year mortgage rates hit 4.56%, another record low.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Mortgage rates fell to a record low for the fourth time in five weeks. But low rates haven't been enough to lift a struggling housing market.
The average rate for 30-year fixed loans this week was 4.56%, down from 4.57% last week, mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday. That's the lowest since Freddie Mac began tracking rates in 1971.
A real estate sign at an Idaho development.
30 yr fixed mtg4.62%
15 yr fixed mtg4.09%
5/1 ARM3.64%
$30K home equity loan7.54%
$30K HELOC5.05%
About these rates
The last time home loan rates were lower was during the 1950s, when most mortgages lasted just 20 or 25 years.
The rate on the 15-year fixed loan dropped to 4.03%, down from 4.06% last week and the lowest on records dating back to 1991.

Rates have fallen since the spring. Investors worried about the European debt crisis have shifted money into the safety of Treasury bonds. That has forced those yields down. Mortgage rates tend to track yields on Treasury debt.

However, low rates have yet to spark home sales and refinancing activity remains moderate.

Sales of previously occupied homes fell in June and are expected to keep sinking. The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that last month's sales fell 5.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.37 million.

The housing market stalled after federal tax credits for home buyers expired at the end of April. Home sales have dropped off, homebuilder confidence has waned and consumer sentiment is in the dumps.

It's unlikely low mortgage rates will bolster housing. Rates have hovered near historic lows for more than a year, so many people have already taken advantage of them to buy or refinance a home.

And many of those who haven't wouldn't qualify for a loan. They either owe more than their homes are worth, have shaky credit or have lost their jobs.

To calculate the national average, Freddie Mac collects mortgage rates on Monday through Wednesday of each week from lenders around the country. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a given day.

Rates on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.79%, down from 3.85% a week earlier. Rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages fell to an average of 3.70% from 3.74%.

The rates do not include add-on fees known as points. One point is equal to 1% of the total loan amount. The nationwide fee for loans in Freddie Mac's survey averaged 0.7 a point for 30-year, 15-year and 1-year loans. The average fee for 5-year loans was 0.6 of a point.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Columbus Home Sellers Making Steep Reductions, report says

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Homeowners trying to sell their residences in Columbus chopped away at their asking prices, lopping off a combined $20.4 million of value, a report from real estate researcher Trulia Inc. says.

Nearly a third of homeowners within the city had reduced their listing prices over the 12 months ended July 1, according to the report. The average reduction from the original list price: 8 percent.

The data does not take foreclosures into account, the San Francisco-based Trulia reported.

The national average in price cutting was 24 percent of houses on the market at the start of the month.

The price cutting put Columbus 10th in the nation for the percentage of houses on the market at the start of the month that have seen at least one reduction in listing price since July 1, 2009.

Atop the list was Minneapolis, where Trulia said 40 percent of houses on the market July 1 had their prices reduced at least once. It was followed by Milwaukee (39 percent), Dallas (38 percent) Boston and Baltimore (34 percent), Phoenix and Memphis, Tenn. (33 percent) and five other cities tied with Columbus at 32 percent.

The steepest average reduction in price for July was in Virginia Beach, Va., at 32 percent, Trulia’s report said.

The report can be found here.

“Sellers are feeling the heat this summer as the economic recovery simmers down and home inventory levels climb,” Trulia CEO Pete Flint said in a release. “We’re seeing more and more sellers reduce their home listing prices to attract potential buyers, who definitely have the upper hand in negotiations this season. The slow start to the summer season is a major concern that we are heading towards a double-dip in the second half of this year.”

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Investor steps in to rescue Ibiza as project switches to apartments

In case you missed this.
Core Properties LLC may take over development of the troubled Ibiza housing high-rise in Columbus’ Short North.
Partner Jeff Coopersmith confirmed the real estate investment firm, best known for hotels and medical office buildings, wants to revive the project at 830 N. High St., creating 155 apartments rather than the condominiums envisioned for the 11-story building.

File photo by Janet Adams | Business First

The 11-story Ibiza tower at North High Street and East Hubbard Avenue is the subject of five lawsuits against developer Apex Realty filed by buyers who made deposits but never saw the building erected.

“It’s a project that is phenomenally unique with its amenities and its great location that could make it a defining project for the Short North,” Coopersmith said. “We think it will do well as long as we make sure the numbers work.”

Apex Realty Enterprises LLC, an affiliate of developer Arms Properties, unveiled the project, then dubbed Urban Oasis, in 2006. It bought the bulk of the site at North High Street and East Hubbard Avenue for $4.7 million in March 2007.

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The developer of the failed Ibiza housing project in the Short North says it has signed an agreement with a "large Columbus developer" to build apartments instead of condos on the site.

"The goal is the exact same building," said Scot Dewhirst, an attorney representing the developer, Apex Realty Enterprises. "I think it's still going to be an exciting project for the Short North."

While Apex tries to revive the project, lawsuits mount against the company from investors seeking to get their condo deposits back.

"I've lost faith in the developers," said Joanne Strasser, 31, who is suing for the return of $15,000 she deposited on a $275,000 condominium in 2008. "I think it's really unfortunate because I believe the project would have been a great one."

Strasser is among more than 60 buyers who deposited an estimated $1 million on condos in Ibiza, which was designed to be the neighborhood's largest condo project, featuring 135 homes in two 11-story towers.

Dewhirst said Apex has reached an agreement with an unnamed developer that would allow all the deposits to be returned with interest.

"Our goal is to resolve those disputes," said Dewhirst, a partner with the Columbus firm Artz, Dewhirst & Wheeler. "We want to pay that money back as soon as possible."

Dewhirst said Apex is also working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on the revised project. In a May 13 e-mail included in court filings, Apex partner Michael Council told investors: "We are also moving down the path with HUD to get the project financed as an apartment project."

Tom Leach, the director of HUD's Columbus field office, said Apex approached HUD about a year ago to discuss the project, but HUD has seen no plan since.

"There's no current proposal submitted, and the previous discussions were preliminary," Leach said. "There's no action pending by HUD."

Dewhirst said the Columbus developer will be identified as soon as due diligence is completed. He said he could not say when construction will begin or deposit money will be returned. Apex has told depositors that they can sign a note that would provide a judgment against Apex if the money is not returned by Dec. 6.

Strasser said she declined to sign the note because she thnks Apex already has violated its contract.

"I hope everybody gets their money back," said Strasser, who bought a home in Victorian Village after giving up on Ibiza. "I just don't feel comfortable putting my signature to another agreement with Apex."

At least five investors have filed suits accusing Apex of systematically misrepresenting the project and of failing to build the condos as agreed to in contracts.

In addition to Strasser, a suit was recently filed by Mark McGuire and Timothy O'Neill, who deposited $16,500 on a $325,000 unit.

The suits are similar to others filed this year: Michael Saucedo and Reena Buddhdev sued for the return of $11,500 they deposited on a $230,000 condo; the Simon Group sued for the return of $74,750 deposited on a $1.5 million condo; and Roy and Debra Walters sued for the return of $17,250 deposited on a $345,000 condo.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Reminder: Goodale Park Music Series Begins This Sunday at 12:30pm

The second annual Goodale Park Music Series will present six free outdoor concerts at the park’s gazebo this summer. All shows run from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. rain or shine. The lineup features these Columbus performing acts:

Wholly Craft will sell a variety of craft items made by Columbus artists and designers at each show. Every performance will also feature a potluck hosted by one of six prominent local food bloggers: CMH Gourmand, Columbus Foodie, Hounds In The Kitchen, Hungrywoolf, Restaurant Widow, and Taco Trucks Columbus. Community personalities Jill Moorhead and Lauren Wilson will orchestrate and promote the potlucks, which will be themed according to the types of music being performed.

The goal of these concerts is to celebrate community and support local musicians from multiple musical genres. Children and well-behaved pets are more than welcome. Camaraderie and bare feet in the grass are highly encouraged. The series is funded by the Short North Foundation, Short North Civic Association, Friends of Goodale Park, Italian Village Society, Harrison West Society, and ComFest. Visit and for more information.

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