Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weinland Park (north of the Short North) To Get New Homes

Apartments will give way to houses

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 02:53 AM


Two blighted, vacant apartment buildings will be torn down to make way for new homes as part of a project to rejuvenate Weinland Park.

"These buildings have been a source of criminal activity in the neighborhood," Franklin County Treasurer Ed Leonard told county commissioners.

The commissioners yesterday voted unanimously to accept Leonard's recommendation to erase $156,097 in unpaid property taxes by placing the properties, for a few seconds at least, into the county's land bank.

Commissioners immediately then gave the buildings, at 1407 and 1415 N. 4th St., to Campus Partners, a nonprofit group that works to redevelop the area near Ohio State University. It will spend $409,000 to strip away asbestos and raze the 26 units.

The group is to build at least three $120,000 homes on the site, said Leonard, who helped put together the deal with the Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County.

The new homes will "be a cornerstone" of the neighborhood's redevelopment, said Steven D. Gladman, housing trust president.

Auto research center pegged for Cooper Stadium

Business First article is here

A center for automotive research and technology rather than an auto racetrack has emerged as the featured use for the redevelopment of Cooper Stadium, former home of the Columbus Clippers.

“It is in effect the epicenter,” project developer William Schottenstein, principal of Arshot Investment Corp., said Wednesday during a Columbus Metropolitan Club panel discussion on Cooper Stadium. “What comes out of that building will be what drives the overall project.”

The center, with possible involvement from Ohio State University, Columbus State Community College and NASCAR racing star Jeff Gordon, would focus on automotive research, including electric vehicles, and train auto technicians. It also would use the proposed racetrack inside Cooper Stadium for auto testing. Schottenstein also said Arshot is convinced it can mitigate noise from the racetrack and comply with Columbus’ noise ordinance.

“The long and short of it,” Schottenstein said, “is it’s not going to have any impact noise-wise.”

That goes against claims by Redevelop Our Area Responsibly, a group of Franklinton, German Village and downtown businesses and residents that has battled the Arshot project since its introduction two-and-a-half years ago. Citing findings from a sound study they commissioned, ROAR members have said noise from the racetrack would hurt the quality of life and property values for those living near the facility.

Arshot commissioned its own noise study, which found the noise can be kept at acceptable levels with the construction of a 35-foot tall wall around the track.

Arshot has an option to purchase the site from Franklin County, which owns the 46-acre site and baseball park that sits on it. It has been vacant for two years because of the Clippers’ move to Huntington Park in the Arena District.

Arshot has submitted a rezoning application for the property to the city of Columbus. Its fate is in the hands of city council, which is expected to make its decision early next year.

Franklin County Commissioner John O’Grady, one of the panel members Wednesday, said he supports the project because it meets the county’s goals of reusing Cooper Stadium and creating jobs in the Franklinton area.

Schottenstein said his Cooper Park project would create an estimated 300 jobs – everything from unskilled positions to automotive researchers with doctorates. His company expects to invest $30 million to $40 million in the project.

“These are the types of jobs and development the commissioners strive for in all of the projects we get involved in,” O’Grady said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with where this is headed.”

No ROAR members were on the panel, but a number of them asked pointed questions of Schottenstein, O’Grady and the other two panelists, Southwest Area Commission Secretary Stefanie Coe and Giorgio Rizzoni, director of the Center for Automotive Research at Ohio State.

Schottenstein was questioned about media reports that have said Cooper Park would host as few as six auto-racing events a year to as many as 16 to 20.

Six is the more accurate number for race events that would produce noise levels at the limits of Columbus’ noise law, he said, adding

Arshot’s plan also calls for Cooper Park to host events such as extreme sports, car shows, rodeos and concerts.

“Racing would be one of the more limited types of events,” Schottenstein said.

But he also said it would not be “economically viable” to eliminate auto racing from the event mix at Cooper Park, and he wants the facility to be in use year-round.

Other questions from the audience resulted in O’Grady saying tax abatements for the developer may be needed to make the Cooper Park project work. In addition, Rizzoni said there is no binding agreement for Ohio State to be involved in the project but some “friendly conversations” between OSU and Arshot officials have taken place.

Monday, September 27, 2010

NPR: Remedy for Real Estate Market Has Economists Divided

Remedy For Foreclosures Has Economists Divided

Foreclosures continue to rack up — they hit a record high last month. And home construction remains near a 50-year low.

Some analysts say the government has done too much already and that the market should be left alone. Others think the government should take bolder action.

Giving Homeowners A Break

William Wheaton, an economist with MIT's Center for Real Estate, says the housing market is woven into the fabric of the economy: There are hundreds of thousands of residential construction jobs, and the fall in home values affects Americans' ability and willingness to spend money.

There are also subtle impacts. For example, if someone is stuck in a house they can't sell, they're less likely to move to take a better job in some other part of the country. Losses on foreclosures also hurt banks.

The possibility of several million additional foreclosures could also push house prices even lower.

"What worries me is that the recent data suggests as many as 25 percent of people who have mortgages in the U.S., those mortgages are underwater," Wheaton says.

The Walk-Away Option, A 'Bargaining Solution'

A homeowner is "underwater" if they owe more than their house is currently worth. Wheaton says that's going to result in more and more people deciding to just walk away from their homes. For example, a homeowner living in Arizona who paid $600,000 for a house that is now worth $300,000 is likely to walk away.

Wheaton says the solution is for lenders to cut the amount people owe to the value of their house. In the case of the Arizona homeowner, the bank would forgive $300,000 of the loan. But in exchange, the homeowner would give up half of the gains as the house appreciates.

"In many situations in economics, you resolve these conflicts through what's called a 'bargaining solution,' where you split the losses," Wheaton says. The alternative, he says, is an additional 2 million to 3 million foreclosures.

A Massive Government Refinance Program

Or the government could automatically refinance millions of homeowners — a plan proposed by economists R. Glenn Hubbard and Christopher Mayer of the Columbia Business School.

"If we had normally functioning markets, we would have already seen 30 million people taking out new mortgages," Mayer says.

With home prices down and tighter lending standards, many people can't qualify to refinance right now, he says. So they are stuck paying interest rates around 6 percent or more. A typical borrower could save around $2,000 a year if they could refinance at today's lower rates, Mayer says.

He is calling for the government to "reach out to 37 million borrowers with government-guaranteed mortgages and offer them an inexpensive and expedited opportunity to refinance their mortgages."

He says this shouldn't cost the government a lot since it's already on the hook, guaranteeing most home loans through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or other avenues.

"The government is the market," Mayer says.

He says that refinancing loans automatically will mean homeowners will be better able to pay their mortgage and less likely to default. What's more, he says, it will put more money in people's pockets to spend and stimulate the economy.

Moving Away From Government Intervention

Anthony Sanders, the director of the Center for Real Estate Entrepreneurship at the George Mason University School of Management, says the government's earlier efforts to prop up the market have already resulted in a takeover with the government guaranteeing almost all new home loans.

"When they intervene, good luck with getting them out of there," Sanders says. "Where does this stop?"

He remains concerned about unintended consequences. Maybe these proposals would somehow result in more losses for banks down the road. After all, if homeowners are paying less on their mortgages, a bank, a group of investors, or a pension fund somewhere will no longer be getting those higher interest-rate payments.

Sanders says it's time for the government to back away from these interventions and allow the market to chart its own course.

Related NPR Stories

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ohio Housing Finance Agency drops interest rates for first time homebuyer program

Posted: 9/21/2010
Columbus Board of REALTORS®

Interest rates are dropping for the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) First Time Homebuyer Program! New rates went into effect Monday, Sept. 13, 2010.

First-Time Homebuyer Program
Effective Date: Sept.13, 2010 12:01am

Mortgage Rates
4.25% for loans without 2.5% assistance grant
4.75% for loans with 2.5% assistance grant
4.00% for Ohio Heroes without 2.5% assistance grant
4.50% for Ohio Heroes with 2.5% assistance grant
4.25% for Grant for Grads 2.5% assistance grant

30-year fixed rate FHA/VA/USDA-RD loans are eligible
2-1 buy downs are permitted**
**Please see the underwriting guidelines for specific product information

$150 Transfer fee to Servicer (US Bank fee)
$79 Tax service fee (US Bank fee, not to exceed $90)
1% origination fee
Additional fees may apply to certain products

Effective Dates
Loans must close between September 13, 2010 - February 14, 2011. Mortgage file must be delivered to servicer by February 21, 2011.

The federal recapture tax provision applies to all loans in this program. View the IRS explanation on recapture of federal subsidy. Please remember, OHFA will reimburse for any recapture tax payments for all loans reserved after March 1, 2006.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

This Saturday: "Art for Life"....the place to be on Saturday Night

Click here see the Silent Auction Artwork

Click here see go to their website

The Columbus AIDS Task Force presents Art for Life 2010, its biennial gala fundraiser. The live and silent art auctions and party historically attract a crowd approaching 2,000 supporters and art lovers, who will bid on artwork donated by local and national artists.

Join us in welcoming Gloria J. T. Smith, former executive director of the Columbus AIDS Task Force, for a special recognition.

Click here to buy

Schedule of Events

Art for Life 2010
September 25, 2010
Sullivant Hall – The Ohio State University
1813 N. High Street

Click here for a map to the event

Live Auction
(includes admission to Silent Auction and Party)
Featuring juried artwork

Reception 6 p.m.
Auction 7:30 p.m.

$125 Individual (+ Box Office Ticket Fee)

Silent Auction & Party
Featuring more than 100 pieces of original artwork

8 p.m. to Midnight

$75 Individual (+ Box Office Ticket Fee)
$140 Pair (+ Box Office Ticket Fee)

Student Tickets are Also Available

Honorary Chair
President E. Gordon Gee
The Ohio State University

Event Co-Chairs
Andrea Cambern
Michael Council
Loann Crane
Joel Díaz
Sherri Geldin
Yolanda Harris
Nannette Maciejunes
Colleen Marshall
Ron Pizzuti

Art for Life 2010 is made possible through the generous support of the following patrons:


Tom Davis
Rick Gallagher
Thomas F. Havens
George J Kontogiannis


Wardley Birkett & Brian Harrison
Jeff Chaddock & Mark Morrow
Loann Crane
Joel Díaz*
Ron & Ann Pizzuti
Steve Shellabarger
David Voyles
Greg Zanetos


Sally Blue & Dan Brown
Meredith & Jay Crane
Dooley & Co.
Paul Feeney & Chad Braun
Tom Grote & Rick Neal
Jack Jackson & Bob Storbeck
Tom and Mary Katzenmeyer
Dr. Kurt & Leslie Malkoff


Ernest Adams
Carole Anderson, Ph.D.*
Jamie Crane & Tim Miller
Sue & Lynn Greer
Java & Mark Kittrick
Helene & Michael Lehv
Terri LeMaile-Williams* and Stephen Ifeduba Loth
William Mains
David Meek
Tim Morbitzer & Giancarlo Miranda Paglis
D. Scott Owens and Kevin Kowalski
Jim Ressa & Steve Zawada
Jose Rodriguez
Time Warner Cable
John Wakelin & Anu Chauhan
Drs. Michael & Beth Weinstock*
Michael & Arlene Weiss


Peggy Anderson & Chris Brakenbury
Doug Aschenbach
Herb Asher
Greg Baker* & Tom Ward
Robert Bruce and Nancy G. Brown
Jason Calhoun
Herbert Chen
Phyllis E. Culbertson
Bev & Bob Darwin
Dr. John A. Davis*
Brenda Dean
Tim & Kelly Friar
Tim Gallen
Roy Gottlieb, DDS
Kevin & Mia Hairston
Barbara Havens
David Hoover*
Dr. William Hicks & Carla Hayden
William & Kathleen Hurdle
Akeem C. Iman-Jones
Donna & Larry James
Bryan Kemp & David Hogoarth
Bryan Knicely
Dr. MySheika Lemaile-Williams
Randi Love*
Jeffrey Mackey, Esq.
William Meezan & Michael Britten
Michael Miller* and Scott Nelson
Jack Miner & Brian Dozer
Dr. Michael Para & Caroline Whitacre, Ph.D.
Eddie Pauline
Terry Penrod
John B.C. Porter* & William F. Klinber
Tanya Rutner
Travis Samson*
Arend Schuring & Tommy McClure
Fred Sewards
Jeff Smith and Dwayne Sattler
Barbara Sokol
Chris Swindells
Bobby Thaxton*
Craig Tremblay
David Tweet
Lou Venneri
Michael Ward
John Wirchanski


Jonathan Goldsmith
Marci Ingram
Joseph Jares*
Karen Simonian
Josh & Julie Smith

* Current CATF Board Members

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Central Ohio's unemployment rate tumbles to 8.3%

A boost in nonfarm payroll and a more than 7,000-worker drop in the ranks of the unemployment helped Central Ohio’s jobless rate for August slide to its lowest point in more than a year, according to statistics released Tuesday by the state Department of Job and Family Services.

The department said the seven-county region’s unemployment rate was 8.3 percent, down from 9 percent in July and below 8.6 percent in August 2009. Jobless rates by county ranged from a low of 6.9 percent in Delaware County to a high of 10.1 percent in Pickaway County.

Franklin County’s unemployment rate mirrored the region’s, also falling from 9 percent in July.

Central Ohio’s jobless rate accounts for an 878,300-worker nonfarm payroll, up 2,100 jobs from July. The ranks of those out of work and actively seeking a job shrank by 7,300 workers to 79,200 last month. The last time unemployment in the region fell below 8.3 percent was in May 2009, when unemployment hit 8 percent near the beginning of an upward climb.

Ohio’s unemployment rate, adjusted for seasonal differences, fell slightly to 10.1 percent from 10.3 percent in July, though nonfarm payroll and unemployment registered monthly declines. The department said unemployment rates fell in 80 of the state’s 88 counties last month.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wall Street Journal: 10 Reasons To Buy A Home

10 Reasons To Buy a Home

Enough with the doom and gloom about homeownership. Brett Arends explains why owning a home is a good thing.

Enough with the doom and gloom about homeownership.

Sure, maybe there's more pain to come in the housing market. But when Time magazine starts running covers that declare "Owning a home may no longer make economic sense," it's time to say: Enough is enough. This is what "capitulation" looks like. Everyone has given up.


The Sept. 6 cover of Time magazine: This is what capitulation looks like.

After all, at the peak of the bubble five years ago, Time had a different take. "Home Sweet Home," declared its cover then, as it celebrated the boom and asked: "Will your house make you rich?"

But it's not enough just to be contrarian. So here are 10 reasons why it's good to buy a home.

1. You can get a good deal. Especially if you play hardball. This is a buyer's market. Most of the other buyers have now vanished, as the tax credits on purchases have just expired. We're four to five years into the biggest housing bust in modern history. And prices have come down a long way– about 30% from their peak, according to Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Index, which tracks home prices in 20 big cities. Yes, it's mixed. New York is only down 20%. Arizona has halved. Will prices fall further? Sure, they could. You'll never catch the bottom. It doesn't really matter so much in the long haul.

Where is fair value? Fund manager Jeremy Grantham at GMO, who predicted the bust with remarkable accuracy, said two years ago that home prices needed to fall another 17% to reach fair value in relation to household incomes. Case-Shiller since then: Down 18%.

Brett Arends discusses why he thinks now is a particularly good time to buy a home.

2. Mortgages are cheap. You can get a 30-year loan for around 4.3%. What's not to like? These are the lowest rates on record. As recently as two years ago they were about 6.3%. That drop slashes your monthly repayment by a fifth. If inflation picks up, you won't see these mortgage rates again in your lifetime. And if we get deflation, and rates fall further, you can refi.

Brett Arends discusses why he thinks now is a particularly good time to buy a home.

3. You'll save on taxes. You can deduct the mortgage interest from your income taxes. You can deduct your real estate taxes. And you'll get a tax break on capital gains–if any–when you sell. Sure, you'll need to do your math. You'll only get the income tax break if you itemize your deductions, and many people may be better off taking the standard deduction instead. The breaks are more valuable the more you earn, and the bigger your mortgage. But many people will find that these tax breaks mean owning costs them less, often a lot less, than renting.


The June 13, 2005 cover of Time.

4. It'll be yours. You can have the kitchen and bathrooms you want. You can move the walls, build an extension–zoning permitted–or paint everything bright orange. Few landlords are so indulgent; for renters, these types of changes are often impossible. You'll feel better about your own place if you own it than if you rent. Many years ago, when I was working for a political campaign in England, I toured a working-class northern town. Mrs. Thatcher had just begun selling off public housing to the tenants. "You can tell the ones that have been bought," said my local guide. "They've painted the front door. It's the first thing people do when they buy." It was a small sign that said something big.

5. You'll get a better home. In many parts of the country it can be really hard to find a good rental. All the best places are sold as condos. Money talks. Once again, this is a case by case issue: In Miami right now there are so many vacant luxury condos that owners will rent them out for a fraction of the cost of owning. But few places are so favored. Generally speaking, if you want the best home in the best neighborhood, you're better off buying.

6. It offers some inflation protection. No, it's not perfect. But studies by Professor Karl "Chip" Case (of Case-Shiller), and others, suggest that over the long-term housing has tended to beat inflation by a couple of percentage points a year. That's valuable inflation insurance, especially if you're young and raising a family and thinking about the next 30 or 40 years. In the recent past, inflation-protected government bonds, or TIPS, offered an easier form of inflation insurance. But yields there have plummeted of late. That also makes homeownership look a little better by contrast.

Associated Press

A house for sale in Shelby, Ohio.

7. It's risk capital. No, your home isn't the stock market and you shouldn't view it as the way to get rich. But if the economy does surprise us all and start booming, sooner or later real estate prices will head up again, too. One lesson from the last few years is that stocks are incredibly hard for most normal people to own in large quantities–for practical as well as psychological reasons. Equity in a home is another way of linking part of your portfolio to the long-term growth of the economy–if it happens–and still managing to sleep at night.

8. It's forced savings. If you can rent an apartment for $2,000 month instead of buying one for $2,400 a month, renting may make sense. But will you save that $400 for your future? A lot of people won't. Most, I dare say. Once again, you have to do your math, but the part of your mortgage payment that goes to principal repayment isn't a cost. You're just paying yourself by building equity. As a forced monthly saving, it's a good discipline.

9. There is a lot to choose from. There is a glut of homes in most of the country. The National Association of Realtors puts the current inventory at around 4 million homes. That's below last year's peak, but well above typical levels, and enough for about a year's worth of sales. More keeping coming onto the market, too, as the banks slowly unload their inventory of unsold properties. That means great choice, as well as great prices.

10. Sooner or later, the market will clear. Demand and supply will meet. The population is forecast to grow by more than 100 million people over the next 40 years. That means maybe 40 million new households looking for homes. Meanwhile, this housing glut will work itself out. Many of the homes will be bought. But many more will simply be destroyed–either deliberately, or by inaction. This is already happening. Even two years ago, when I toured the housing slump in western Florida, I saw bankrupt condo developments that were fast becoming derelict. And, finally, a lot of the "glut" simply won't matter: It's concentrated in a few areas, like Florida and Nevada. Unless you live there, the glut won't have any long-term impact on housing supply in your town.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Story of the Evans Scholarship

Fairway to the Future

Evan Scholars Documentary Aired on NBC Sunday, September 12, 2010

BMW Presents an Inside Look at Caddies Making the Grade

“Fairway to the Future,” a 30-minute documentary on the Evans Scholars program produced by BMW, aired on NBC Network TV at 12:30 p.m. (CDT) Sunday, Sept. 12, leading into the network’s final round coverage of the BMW Championship. The documentary provides an inside look at the challenges and joys experienced by the young men and women who apply for and receive the Evans Scholarship.

“Fairway to the Future” focuses on the lives of three young caddies as they are interviewed by the Evans Scholars Selection Committee and then await final word on whether they will be awarded the prestigious scholarship.

The three featured Evans Scholars are: Jonathan Gonzalez, Katherine Reese and Robert Wietecki. Jonathan is from Highland Park and caddied at Briarwood Country Club. He is attending the University of Illinois. Katherine is from Maywood and caddied at Riverside Golf Club. She is attending Purdue University. Robert is from Chicago and caddied at Bryn Mawr Country Club. He is attending Marquette University.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

The Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship is a full tuition and housing college scholarship for golf caddies that is renewable for up to four years. Each year, more than 800 deserving caddies across the country attend college on a four-year scholarship from the Evans Scholars Foundation. Selected applicants must have a strong caddie record, excellent grades, outstanding character and demonstrated financial need. Read more about the scholarship requirements.

Since 1930, when the first two Evans Scholars enrolled at Northwestern University, more than 10,000 outstanding young men and women have been awarded Evans Scholarships. Most recipients attend one of the 14 universities across the nation where the Evans Scholars Foundation owns and operates a Scholarship House.

Chapter living

At the Evans Scholarship Houses, students live and work together cooperatively. Each House elects its own officers, runs social and service activities, and participates in campus programs. The Evans Scholars Chapters have earned a reputation on each campus for scholastic achievement and excellence in community service.

Living and working together provides Evans Scholars an opportunity to develop leadership capabilities and strong communication skills. We believe that the sense of empowerment fostered through chapter living is largely responsible for the tremendous success of our 14 Evans Scholarship Houses. When you compare our chapter houses with other campus organizations, they rank at or near the top in academics and community service.

This Weekend: Short North Tour of Homes and Gardens

Sycamore tree-lined Neil Avenue. Gallery Hop. Al fresco dining. Art galleries. Coffee shops. Diversity. The ways to experience the Short North are varied and plentiful. This weekend another unique opportunity arises: the Short North Tour of Homes and Gardens (formerly known as the Victorian Village Tour of Homes and Gardens).

Showcasing ten homes and two gardens from the surrounding neighborhoods, this year's Tour of Homes and Gardens will take place on September 18 and 19. This one-of-a-kind community voyage showcases the architectural styles, interior design, landscaping, and colorful personalities of the Short North neighborhoods.

Sunday Tour sponsored by Dooley & Company Realtors

September 19 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Guests can walk along the tree-lined tour route or ride in an old-fashioned trolley car. Tickets cost $20 on the day of the tour or may be purchased for $15 in advance

Preview Tour, Cocktail Reception, & Hosted Dinners sponsored by SDG Security

September 18 with exclusive tour of homes from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., cocktail reception from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., and hosted dinners at private residences beginning at 8:00 p.m. Reservations are required and tickets cost $100 per person.


Homes on Tour Preview Event Sponsors Volunteer Sign up

2010 Tour Highlights



This circa 1890 home was on the 2003 tour as a “renovation in progress” and much has been accomplished since. The entry hall is flanked by ladies’ and gentlemen’s parlors with handmade fireplace tile created by a previous owner along with reproduction English tile. Every room was renovated while some scars of harder use were left as reminders of days gone by. All floors and woodwork are original. The back courtyard and raised teak deck were added along with the garage rebuild. The attached garage is rare in century-old homes and dates in various forms to prior to 1910. The current structure was created to resemble neighborhood carriage houses while maintaining the original entry to the former basement living quarters. Occupying a former kitchen and butler’s pantry, the kitchen was finished just prior to this year’s tour. Upstairs off the large landing is a master bedroom with sleeping alcove and sitting room as well as an office and guest room. The original maid’s quarters has been redone into a large master bath with beautiful mosaic tile. A former third floor apartment was completely rebuilt as a recreation room with the ceiling opened to the rafters. Walls are decorated with some of the homeowner’s favorite entertainment quotes.


The original 1870s home was determined to be structurally unsound due to termite damage, holes in the floor, weak beams, water damage caused by roof leaks, and the absence of a foundation. The Italian Village Commission reluctantly approved demolition but requested that the new home replicate the look of the old historic cottage - at least from the street. The original 650 square foot structure became 2200 square feet of living space due to a rear addition and an underground room. Architectural advice was sought from Urban Order and Ketron Custom Builders handled the demolition and reconstruction. The long narrow living-dining room floor plan was retained but separated by a double-sided fireplace and custom art glass doors. The kitchen was enlarged and the four-season room was added. The living-dining areas’ floors are Brazilian Cherry; the kitchen and sunroom floors are slate. The high-tech lower level features a black granite bar with soda fountain, a state-of-the-art theater, and a huge shower ideal for washing the puppies. Radiant heat is piped to both floors as well as a snow-melt system under the exterior walkways. The two-story structure at the rear of the property has a garage/party room on the first level and a guest suite (currently in progress) on the second level. The owner is a professional landscaper as evidenced when viewing the entire property.


The first owners of this new 3½ story condo recently moved here from Ft. Lauderdale. The condo was still under construction when they first saw it, so they had the opportunity to finish it to their tastes. The cinder-block exterior was chosen to match the wall across the street and the contemporary interior by Urban Order was exactly what the new homeowners were seeking. The first level is designed to entertain guests with a media room and bar. The outdoor room includes a custom-designed metal enclosure (by Fortin Ironworks) to hide the A/C unit and complement the other metal sculpture and art. The lower level features a gallery of abstract outdoor paintings by Dayton artist Mike Elsass and a guest suite with lots of natural light from the window well. The second story provides the main living space with cathedral ceilings in the great room and master bedroom. The kitchen and outdoor room reflect the industrial era of Italian Village a century ago. Since Rick was a writer for National Geographic for 30 years, art was collected from his travels around the world. They worked with Christy Collection to perfect their interior design. The third floor office can be quickly converted to additional guest space if needed. The meditation space in the loft has a collection of spiritual objects. Their visitors are surprised and impressed with the many shops and nightspots within walking distance of their home.


The original structure of four condos was built in 1890 and came close to meeting the wrecking ball in 1989. Purchased in 2006, the current owners engaged the services of Urban Order Architects, Creations/CRI Interior Design, and Aurora Industries to make their vision into reality. They started at the top and worked down so the construction crew would not be going through finished space. Most of the home was gutted and reconfigured. The third floor has some space-saving storage ideas such as the custom dresser and media stand by Fortin Ironworks and large drawers on either side of the bed created by cutting into the eaves. The elevated bath features a walk-in shower with multiple shower heads, glass mosaic tiles, a slate floor, and zebra wood cabinets. A private balcony provides a great view of the city. On the second floor, the guest bath features an imported circular Jacuzzi with rain shower and colored lights. The walls, floor and vanity are various types of marble. The owner's Tiffany collection is displayed in the guest room while the front room is their office with one of the desks being an 1890s communion table. Another balcony overlooks Neil Avenue. The just-completed first floor has two flat panel televisions above the fireplaces--one behind a two-way mirror and the other hidden behind artwork. A drop-down projector and screen complete the audiovisuals installed by Resolution Audio and Video.


The Wilson’s bought their home in 2005 while living in the suburbs. Over the next 2½ years, these “weekend warriors” spent most of their spare time working to restore their home - completing the majority of the work themselves. About 10 months were spent stripping wallpaper, woodwork, and refinishing floors. Most of the rooms had dropped ceilings and cheap wood paneling covered original plaster walls. When possible, they retained original woodwork, doors, windows, and hardware. The kitchen was reconfigured and new Arts and Crafts cabinets installed. Wainscoting thought to be damaged beyond repair was removed and in the process they discovered the backside to be in perfect condition and re-installed it with that side showing. When removing linoleum they discovered the original wood floor and stained it red. The antique dining table belonged to Karen’s grandmother. Several items were found on e-bay -- antique light fixtures, floor grates, and the front door. The bath was redesigned and enlarged by stealing space from an adjacent bedroom. A light wall was created to allow natural light from the laundry room windows to enter the bath. A new garage was built and an old metal awning was replaced with a beautiful wisteria-covered pergola.


This grand home was built in 1890. For almost four decades it was the home of Clarice Branson, a well-known local realtor. The Browns purchased the property in 2009 with the intent of renovating the entire house. In the rear portion of the house virtually everything was removed except for the exterior brick structure. Many of the interior walls were reoriented. A conservatory with heated tile floors and stained glass windows has been added to create additional space for dining and relaxing while overlooking the garden. The second floor features two complete master suites plus a study surrounded with custom book cases and cabinetry. Overlooking the park, the third floor contains a second study, a seating area, and a unique octagonal-shaped room. Great effort was made to keep much of the Victorian era detail including fireplaces, finish carpentry, and intricate plaster ornamentation. Benjamin Niswander of Taliesin Construction managed the extensive renovation while Damon Baker designed the new space. Interior decoration is being done by Sunflower Design. The house seamlessly combines Victorian era design with a more functional and contemporary use of space. The home will be featured on a future tour when fully complete.


This home was built in 1897 for David Horner who immediately sold it to his daughter and son-in-law, Nettie and Charles Woodward for “one dollar and love and affection” --presumably as a wedding gift. It remained in the Woodward family until 1946. From the 1950’s – 1970’s, Dr. Denton Adams practiced medicine on the first floor. (Featured on the 2001 Tour, a guest viewing the home exclaimed, “I gave birth to my son in that dining room!”) Purchased in 1990, the current owner began a complete renovation in keeping with the home’s original Victorian style. The seven fireplaces are believed to be original to the home as are most of the chandeliers and stained and leaded glass windows. Well-aged leather lines the den’s walls and the front staircase. An avid collector, the home showcases the owner’s family antiques and mementos. Recent projects include a fully renovated master bath, a cookbook library off the kitchen, and work is underway to turn the third floor into a guest suite and the fourth floor “lookout” into a sundeck. Landscaped back yard plans have been scrapped since Maggie her Springer Spaniel has “torn up everything that has been planted over the past 20 years including an apple tree.”


The previous owner lived in this home for 50 years, kept it well maintained but it was definitely in need of attention. With the able assistance of Dave Fox Remodeling, the current owner has created a beautiful new kitchen with all the latest conveniences as well as updating the baths with colorful glass tile designs. In addition, this restored home features new and/or updated electric, plumbing, windows, floors, woodwork, security system, and zoned HVAC. The front porch was rebuilt and the third floor was finished. Notice the unique fireplace screens throughout the home and the clever new transoms on the second floor. The brick fireplace in the back yard was created by a previous owner. Progress throughout the duration of the project was filmed and broadcast earlier this year on the ABC-TV’s Home Makeover.


Four years ago, when Veronica and John purchased this circa 1890’s home, it was very livable but with an old-fashioned room configuration that did not fit with their family’s use of space. They engaged local architect, Urban Order, and local remodeler, Renovations Unlimited, to reconfigure the space into something more functional. A back staircase was removed which gave extra space for a much larger kitchen, dining area, and music room plus a first-floor powder room and laundry. The old wood pocket doors were replaced with new doors featuring glass inserts to visually open the space while keeping sound at a minimum. Old moldings and doors were salvaged and used whenever possible and new doors and finishes were chosen to fit with the old detailing. Upstairs, a big master bath was added and arches were created to mimic the arches on the first floor. Since the homeowners previously lived in Iowa, much of the art throughout the home was created by Iowa artists including the two large hanging quilts by Iowa City textiles artist Susan Shinnick.


A brick Victorian with pine floors, a 1915 painted piano, and 1960s fixtures – this home reflects both the history of a neighborhood on the rise as well as the interests and travels of its current dweller – an architect turned marketer, a modernist and preservationist. From cottage garden to the salvage signs, from the book-lined shelves to the art-filled walls, this home has surprises – skylights, a twisty staircase, a collection of vintage horns and furniture. The generous front porch and gracious tree-lined street keep the temperatures cool; diffuse light ebbs in through large-scale windows. Open flow between large rooms on both floors has made for many joyful social gatherings, sometimes with more than 100 friends and family members. This is a home and garden in which to celebrate life. Yes, there is a draft in winter. And a few more outlets would be nice. Obviously there is much work yet to be done (next up: the kitchen) but the home, in its current state of stalwart perseverance, is a lovely and wonderful reminder that beauty is in the eye of the survivor.

EBEN & JEANNE KENT (garden only) 851 NEIL AVENUE

The Kent’s are nature lovers and wanted a perennial garden that would attract birds, butterflies, and other wildlife—an urban garden designed to complement their century-old Victorian home. While on a stroll through the neighborhood last year they came upon a garden that was similar to what they had in mind. When they discovered the garden belonged to landscape architect Greg Krobot, principal of GrKLA, they contracted with him to design their garden. Greg’s challenge was to mold a small back yard into visually distinct rooms within the overall space. This was accomplished with elevation changes, vertical elements such as trees, a decorative iron fence, and pavement pattern manipulation. They also wanted an “eco-friendly” atmosphere. Beneath the entire lower patio is a two foot deep “dry well” into which is piped all the storm water from the back roof of the house. The storm water then percolates into the earth rather than being dumped into the city sewer. The Kent’s also compost their garden waste on site which they then use as a soil amendment. Shade perennials and shrubs were selected for the beds closer to the house and full sun perennials toward the rear half of the yard. The Midwestern prairie was the inspiration for the planting design—alluding to the great open spaces of the urban oasis.


The beautiful landscaping throughout the property reflects a ten year project. The azaleas, hostas, holly, hemlock, and hydrangeas in the front existed when the home was purchased but many perennials have been added including the sculpted evergreens. The side yard features unique stone benches that provide a quiet place to sit. In back, Ken built the stone fountain and fire pit, added the decorative fretwork, and installed the three-tiered fountain. Notice the Weeping Japanese Maple and, leaning over the stone fountain, a Weeping Purple Birch. They found the art on the back porch when on their honeymoon in Jamaica. The home’s multi-color exterior trim is from a historic color palette, carefully chosen after “a lot of experimenting.” They love to entertain outdoors—especially in conjunction with OSU football games. Notice the OSU logo in cement in the side yard. This is the last time you will see the garden in its current state since they are planning an addition on the back of the house. The interior of the home is currently in progress and will be on a future tour when complete.


Saturday, September 18
Preview Party
Preview Tour of Homes: 4 to 7 pm
Cocktail Reception:
The Jackson On High roof top pool

6:30 to 8 pm
8 pm - ?

Your ticket to this premier event entitles you to a tour of the featured homes and gardens, a cocktail reception, and dinner at a private residence.


Dinners hosted by:

Antonietta Deborah Quinci - SOLD OUT

Serata Siciliana
A sicilian culinary event presented by Antonietta Deborah Quinci in her home

Antipasto - Caponeta - traditional sicilian eggplant dish, served with a sict chocolate sauce
Primo - Timballo del Gattopardo - oven-baked pasta wrapped in eggplant and pastry
Secondo - Costolette d'Agnello - herb encrusted lamb chops
- Patate mille foglie - thousand layer potato
Dolce - Cassata Siciliana - ricotta and spongecake bomb wrapped in marzipan

Rick Gallagher

Travel back in time to the Ottoman empire and dine on Turkish Eggplant, Spiced Almonds, Roasted Olives, Nann, Pappadums, Shrimp Paella, Grilled Chicken Curry, Grilled Baby Lamb Chops, Lobster, Beef Tenderloin, Turkish Vegetables, Hummus, Fresh Fruit, Dahl and an assortment of Mini Desserts as Belly Dancers and Turkish Musicians entertain you. Take this magic carpet ride and maybe Aladin will grant your wish.

Chris Stenger & Rob Pettit - only a couple seats left

Appetizers: Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves with Garlic Yogart
Assorted Olives plate
First Course: Chilled tomato and Sweet Pepper Soup
Second Course: Roast Loin of Pork Stuffed with Figs, Olives and Almonds
Stuffed squid
Porcini and Parmesan Risotto
Dessert: Chocolote Pot de Creme


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bravo taking over Baja Sol restaurant location at Lennox Town Center

Read the entire Columbus Dispatch Article here

Off the menu

• Piada Italian Street Food opened at 1315 W. Lane Ave in Upper Arlington on Sept.1. The restaurant dishes up Italian food via a Chipotle-style serving line.

• Bravo Cucina Italiana is taking over the former Baja Sol Cantina location in Lennox Town Center. The 200-seat restaurant is scheduled to open by the end of the year. [Their website is here]

• The Columbus Fish Market has helped to raise $20,000 for the Oxfam America Gulf Coast Spill Response Fund. All 20 Mitchell's Fish Market locations donated 10percent of July and August sales from the daily chef's special to Gulf oil spill-relief efforts.

• Gordon Biersch's seasonal Oktoberfest menu is available starting today through Oct. 24. The menu includes a new Festbier lager and a selection of German fare, such as the Festbier combo, including a variety of sausages, house-made pretzels and garlic fries.

Denise Trowbridge, Dispatch restaurant columnist, can be reached at

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Business First: Columbus population is growing

Columbus, Cleveland mark population change extremes

Business First of Columbus

Read the entire article here

Columbus enjoys a lofty ranking as a growing city, according to the latest Census Bureau population report, but that is hardly the case 140 miles to the north in Cleveland.

Central Ohio’s largest city added 9,972 residents between 2008 and last year and increased by 55,914 residents since the start of the millennium, according to revised population estimates released Friday by the government. The gain between 2000 and 2009 put Columbus at 35th on the list of fastest-growing cities, but it dropped to 16th largest in the nation from 15th at the turn of the decade.

The Census Bureau issued revised 2009 estimates for 19,507 cities, towns and incorporated communities. These figures are not to be confused with the results of the 2010 census, which are scheduled to be released next year.

New Orleans registered the nation’s biggest nine-year decline in population, largely because of the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Its population plummeted by 129,824 between 2000 and 2009.

On the Big Easy’s heels was Cleveland, which lost 46,094 residents from 2000 to last year to 431,369. That made it the 43rd-largest city in the nation in 2009 from 34th nine years earlier.

Behind Cleveland in population loss for the nine years were Chicago, with a loss of 44,749; Detroit (-40,349); Pittsburgh (-22,791); Buffalo, N.Y. (-22,408); Memphis, Tenn. (-14,103); Baltimore (-13,736); Flint, Mich. (-13,468); and Dearborn, Mich. (-13,128).

The nation’s largest city, New York, also posted the biggest population increase between 2000 and 2009, adding 383,195 residents. Its estimated 2009 population was 8.4 million.

Following New York on the list were Houston, a gain of 284,199; Phoenix (271,221); San Antonio (213,752); Fort Worth, Texas (184,239); Charlotte, N.C. (136,479); Los Angeles (136,442); Atlanta (122,099); Austin, Texas (118,137); and Raleigh, N.C. (117,150).

The Census Bureau first released 2009 population estimates for cities and towns in June. Changes in the number of residences in roughly 6,000 communities triggered the revisions that were issued Friday.

Click here for the findings.

Read more: Columbus, Cleveland mark population change extremes - Business First of Columbus

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Harrison West Neighborhood Featured in the Columbus Dispatch

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 02:53 AM


Click here to read the article and comments
Neighborhood goes from downtrodden to trendy

Historical Harrison West's proximity to Downtown and OSU helped fuel its slow but steady upswing

The new Harrison Park that will soon grace the east bank of the Olentangy River just north of Downtown is the latest piece of a plan to complete the Harrison West neighborhood.

The transformation has been years in the making, turning a once-downtrodden area into a trendy neighborhood of renovated, colorful frame houses and immaculate gardens dotting its brick side streets.

The parkland is a perfect example.

"That site was a blighted industrial area that was pulling down the entire area of the neighborhood," said Jacob Sukosd, a Harrison West resident. "No one wanted to live next to an old factory."

Work began last week on the 4.3-acre park between Quality Place and W. 2nd Avenue. It will include a playground, a gazebo with a copper roof, a new lane for the Olentangy Trail and sculptures designed by Columbus College of Art & Design students.

Residents gathered this summer to clean up the riverbank and will do so again on Saturday.

The park will cost a little more than $1 million, paid for with property taxes in the district.

Residents persuaded Wagenbrenner Development to donate the parkland when the company began building 62 brick houses and 138 condominiums, adding hundreds of people to a site where a margarine factory once sat.

It's quite a difference from the Harrison West that Mary Funk once knew. She bought her Pennsylvania Avenue house almost 30 years ago when the neighborhood was plagued by gang violence.

She said the house cost $8,000. The 130-year-old duplex now is valued at $104,200.

"When we moved in, they were shooting out streetlights," said Funk, who works for Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

The neighborhood has become desirable enough that in April photographer Lauryn Byrdy immediately snapped up space at 3rd and Michigan avenues that once housed a yoga studio.

"I wanted to come to Harrison West," said Byrdy, 27, who shares the space with a hair salon, wardrobe consultant and makeup artist.

"It's very neighborhood-oriented. Moms are walking their babies and dogs by every day," Byrdy said.

A number of young professionals are making their homes there as well.

That includes Sukosd, who moved to Pennsylvania Avenue six years ago from the Brewery District.

Sukosd, 30, who works at Worthington Industries, grew up in a small town in Harrison County in eastern Ohio. He and his wife, Julie, wanted an affordable house, "something historic, architecturally significant," he said.

Harrison West fit the bill.

"We thought it was improving greatly. It had a lot of room to go, but we thought it had even more potential," Sukosd said.

The location is one reason Matt Williams, a Harrison West Society member, and his partner moved from Clintonville to one of the new Harrison Park houses.

"We thought it was a better area for us," Williams said, citing the short distance to the Short North and Grandview Heights.

Harrison West Society President Rob Harris calls his neighborhood "the backyard of the Short North."

With Ohio State University just to the north, Lynn Varney's Harrison House Bed & Breakfast on W. 5th Avenue attracts a good number of visitors.

She has owned it for four years and said she caters to Harrison West residents seeking to put up guests as well as visiting speakers and interviewees at Ohio State and out-of-towners heading to the nearby Short North.

Varney said she has no concerns about her patrons wandering the neighborhood.

"I tell people it's safe to walk to and from the Short North area," Varney said.

Professionals often are found drinking coffee or eating outdoors streetside at places such as Caffe Apropos on W. 3rd Avenue and Katalina's Cafe Corner nearby.

Katalina's owner Kathleen Day said the walkable neighborhood appeals to transplants from New York or the West Coast. Day herself likes that, too.

She's a German Village resident who sees Harrison West as an affordable alternative.

Harrison West leaders want city officials to recognize Harrison West as a destination neighborhood, such as German Village, Day said. "They're so passionate about their community."

Debra Heimanni, at right, and a friend, who asked not to be identified, visit on a sunny day in the Harrison West neighborhood.
Debra Heimanni, at right, and a friend, who asked not to be identified, visit on a sunny day in the Harrison West neighborhood.
Jim Houchard takes his toy poodle, Zoey, for a ride on his Segway. Houchard, his wife, Carol, center, and their neighbor Phyllis Loftus have seen many changes in the years that they've lived in Harrison West.
Jim Houchard takes his toy poodle, Zoey, for a ride on his Segway. Houchard, his wife, Carol, center, and their neighbor Phyllis Loftus have seen many changes in the years that they've lived in Harrison West.


  • Population: 3,191
  • Residential properties that are single-family: 67 percent
  • Residential appraised value, average: $195,939 (2007)
  • High-school graduate: 90 percent
  • Bachelor's degree: 55 percent

Source: Community Research Partners

Where We Live

Monday, September 6, 2010

New York Times: Housing Woes Bring New Cry: Let Market Fall

Click here to read the entire article and comments

The unexpectedly deep plunge in home sales this summer is likely to force the Obama administration to choose between future homeowners and current ones, a predicament officials had been eager to avoid.

Over the last 18 months, the administration has rolled out just about every program it could think of to prop up the ailing housing market, using tax credits, mortgage modification programs, low interest rates, government-backed loans and other assistance intended to keep values up and delinquent borrowers out of foreclosure. The goal was to stabilize the market until a resurgent economy created new households that demanded places to live.

As the economy again sputters and potential buyers flee — July housing sales sank 26 percent from July 2009 — there is a growing sense of exhaustion with government intervention. Some economists and analysts are now urging a dose of shock therapy that would greatly shift the benefits to future homeowners: Let the housing market crash.

When prices are lower, these experts argue, buyers will pour in, creating the elusive stability the government has spent billions upon billions trying to achieve.

“Housing needs to go back to reasonable levels,” said Anthony B. Sanders, a professor of real estate finance at George Mason University. “If we keep trying to stimulate the market, that’s the definition of insanity.”

The further the market descends, however, the more miserable one group — important both politically and economically — will be: the tens of millions of homeowners who have already seen their home values drop an average of 30 percent.

The poorer these owners feel, the less likely they will indulge in the sort of consumer spending the economy needs to recover. If they see an identical house down the street going for half what they owe, the temptation to default might be irresistible. That could make the market’s current malaise seem minor.

Caught in the middle is an administration that gambled on a recovery that is not happening.

“The administration made a bet that a rising economy would solve the housing problem and now they are out of chips,” said Howard Glaser, a former Clinton administration housing official with close ties to policy makers in the administration. “They are deeply worried and don’t really know what to do.”

That was clear last week, when the secretary of housing and urban development, Shaun Donovan, appeared to side with current homeowners, telling CNN the administration would “go everywhere we can” to make sure the slumping market recovers.

Mr. Donovan even opened the door to another housing tax credit like the one that expired last spring, which paid first-time buyers as much as $8,000 and buyers who were moving up $6,500. The cost to taxpayers was in the neighborhood of $30 billion, much of which went to people who would have bought anyway.

Administration press officers quickly backpedaled from Mr. Donovan’s comment, saying a revived credit was either highly unlikely or flat-out impossible. Mr. Donovan declined to be interviewed for this article. In a statement, a White House spokeswoman responded to questions about possible new stimulus measures by pointing to those already in the works.

“In the weeks ahead, we will focus on successfully getting off the ground programs we have recently announced,” the spokeswoman, Amy Brundage, said.

Among those initiatives are $3 billion to keep the unemployed from losing their homes and a refinancing program that will try to cut the mortgage balances of owners who owe more than their property is worth. A previous program with similar goals had limited success.

If last year’s tax credit was supposed to be a bridge over a rough patch, it ended with a glimpse of the abyss. The average home now takes more than a year to sell. Add in the homes that are foreclosed but not yet for sale and the total is greater still.

Builders are in even worse shape. Sales of new homes are lower than in the depths of the recession of the early 1980s, when mortgage rates were double what they are now, unemployment was pervasive and the gloom was at least as thick.

The deteriorating circumstances have given a new voice to the “do nothing” chorus, whose members think the era of trying to buy stability while hoping the market will catch fire — called “extend and pretend” or “delay and pray” — has run its course.

“We have had enough artificial support and need to let the free market do its thing,” said the housing analyst Ivy Zelman.

Michael L. Moskowitz, president of Equity Now, a direct mortgage lender that operates in New York and seven other states, also advocates letting the market fall. “Prices are still artificially high,” he said. “The government is discriminating against the renters who are able to buy at $200,000 but can’t at $250,000.”

A small decline in home prices might not make too much of a difference to a slack economy. But an unchecked drop of 10 percent or more might prove entirely discouraging to the millions of owners just hanging on, especially those who bought in the last few years under the impression that a turnaround had already begun.

The government is on the hook for many of these mortgages, another reason policy makers have been aggressively seeking stability. What helped support the market last year could now cause it to crumble.

Since 2006, the Federal Housing Administration has insured millions of low down payment loans. During the first two years, officials concede, the credit quality of the borrowers was too low.

With little at stake and a queasy economy, buyers bailed: nearly 12 percent were delinquent after a year. Last fall, F.H.A. cash reserves fell below the Congressionally mandated minimum, and the agency had to shore up its finances.

Government-backed loans in 2009 went to buyers with higher credit scores. Yet the percentage of first-year defaults was still 5 percent, according to data from the research firm CoreLogic.

“These are at-risk buyers,” said Sam Khater, a CoreLogic economist. “They have very little equity, and that’s the largest predictor of default.”

This is the risk policy makers face. “If home prices begin to fall again with any serious velocity, borrowers may stay away in such numbers that the market never recovers,” said Mr. Glaser, a consultant whose clients include the National Association of Realtors.

Those sorts of worries have a few people from the world of finance suggesting that the administration should do much more, not less.

William H. Gross, managing director at Pimco, a giant manager of bond funds, has proposed the government refinance at lower rates millions of mortgages it owns or insures. Such a bold action, Mr. Gross said in a recent speech, would “provide a crucial stimulus of $50 to $60 billion in consumption,” as well as increase housing prices.

The idea has gained little traction. Instead, there is a sense that, even with much more modest notions, government intervention is not the answer. The National Association of Realtors, the driving force behind the credit last year, is not calling for a new round of stimulus.

Some members of the National Association of Home Builders say a new credit of $25,000 would raise demand but their chances of getting this through Congress are nonexistent.

“Our members are saying that if we can’t get a very large tax credit — one that really brings people off the bench — why use our political capital at all?” said David Crowe, the chief economist for the home builders.

That might give the Obama administration permission to take the risk of doing nothing.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Get a look at the new Grandview Yard Development Tonight

If you go tonight:

-- Grandview Yard
-- Community open house
-- 6 to 8:30 p.m. today
-- 775 Yard St. (900 Goodale Blvd.)
-- Parking is directly behind Urban Active Fitness, north of Goodale

For more information, visit

Trendy blend

The Yard, Grandview's new mixed-use project, is open to visitors tonight

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 02:51 AM


Today, the public will get its first look at what's taken the place of the old Big Bear warehouse in Grandview Heights and initially caused some concern in Columbus.

The first phase of the Grandview Yard project -- a Hyatt Place hotel, Urban Active Fitness and Jason's Deli -- will be showcased during a community open house this evening.

In addition, the final touches are being put on an office building to be occupied by M&A Architects, while the OSU-themed Buckeye Hall of Fame Grill remains under construction with an anticipated November opening.

"The community has really embraced Grandview Yard," said Brian Ellis, president and chief operating officer of Nationwide Realty Investors, which is developing the project. "I think, for the most part, there's been really positive reception to what we're doing."

It wasn't always that way.

Columbus initially balked at providing infrastructure improvements, including roadwork, near Grandview Yard, saying the project would lure jobs and business to Grandview at Columbus' expense.

That issue was resolved last month, though, when Nationwide, parent of Nationwide Realty Investors, announced it would move 1,400 jobs from Dublin to Columbus. At the same time, Columbus agreed to create a tax-increment financing district to help pay for improvements near Grandview Yard.

At an event announcing the deal, Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman called it a "win-win" situation, with the city getting an infusion of jobs without having to provide job-creation incentives.

"We're excited about the Nationwide jobs that are coming Downtown related to this," said Dan Williamson, spokesman for Coleman, adding that "the Grandview Yard project has the potential to be good for the region."

Tonight's open house will give people a chance to see the fruits of some of those efforts.

The event will begin with a short presentation and a question-and-answer session with Ellis.

"This will give us an opportunity to tell folks what's there today and what we expect will be coming down the road," Ellis said, referring to more offices, stores and housing planned at the site. No timetable for expansion has been set.

One of the centerpieces of the first phase won't be open just yet. The 7,800-square-foot Buckeye Hall of Fame Grill is expected to begin operations in November - nearly a year after the closing of a similarly themed restaurant, the Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe, on Olentangy River Road.

The new sports bar represents only the second time Ohio State University has licensed its name and trademarks for a restaurant, said OSU licensing chief Rick Van Brimmer. A smaller licensed version of the Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe remains open in Concourse C at Port Columbus.

"We've been very impressed with the people at Nationwide Realty Investors and their commitment to this project, their vision of what we want this restaurant to be, what we want it to look like and who we want it to serve," said Van Brimmer, the university's director of trademark and licensing services.

The Buckeye Hall of Fame Grill is expected to offer more than just bar food, said Charles LaGarce, president of Columbus Hospitality Group, which will manage the restaurant as well as the Hyatt Place hotel at Grandview Yard.

The goal is to offer seasonal specials and healthy options.

"We'll be a little more intelligent in our food as opposed to your typical sports bar," LaGarce said. "We'll still have the standard wings and burgers, but we'll have culinary flair."

The relationship between OSU and Grandview Yard is expected to be more extensive than just the restaurant. Nationwide is working on a deal with OSU to provide shuttle service between Grandview Yard and university sports facilities, including Ohio Stadium on game days.

The Hyatt Place will have regular shuttle service to points on the OSU campus, because it expects that a good portion of its business will come from those with family members, friends or business to conduct at the university.

Capitol Square Ltd., the commercial real-estate arm of The Dispatch Printing Company, which is publisher of The Dispatch, has a 20percent stake in Grandview Yard.

At a glance


Location: Eastern edge of Grandview Heights, bounded by 3rd Avenue on the north and Goodale Boulevard on the south; site of the former Big Bear supermarket warehouse

Developer: Nationwide Realty Investors, in partnership with Capitol Square Ltd.

Cost: Phase 1, $40 million; $500 million-plus estimated for total project when complete

Size: Phase 1, 8.5 acres; 90 acres total

Initial tenants include: Hyatt Place hotel, Urban Active Fitness and Jason's Deli; Buckeye
Hall of Fame Grill is scheduled to open in November

Future phases to include: A total of 1.5 million square feet of retail and office space, along with about 600 residential units that could be a combination of condos and apartments. There
is no firm timetable for future phases, which are expected to be completed within the next 10
to 15 years.

Source: Nationwide Realty Investors