Thursday, March 31, 2011

Business First: Arena District to fill last gap with new office tower, parking garage

The entire story is here

Nationwide Realty Investors Ltd. is primed to fill the last major parcel in the Arena District with a six-story office building and parking garage complex, completing its ambitious plan for a residential and commercial district laid out when Nationwide Arena opened in 2000.

A commitment from Columbia Gas of Ohio Inc. to anchor the 280,000-square-foot office building at the corner of Neil Avenue and Nationwide Boulevard convinced the developer to move ahead on the project, scheduled for completion in late 2014.

“This building essentially completes the commercial component of the original Arena District master plan,” said Nationwide Realty President Brian Ellis. “This project will take up the vast majority of the remaining ground.”

The $50 million project will include a parking garage with at least 1,400 spots to make up for the 525-spot surface parking lot that will be lost to the construction. Ellis said a construction timetable hasn’t been finalized and the parking garage may get started first.

“We’re still looking at the sequencing,” he said. “We don’t need to start construction immediately to meet Columbia Gas’ needs.”

The office complex would be the largest built so far in the Arena District, surpassing the Jones Day law firm-anchored building at 325 John H. McConnell Blvd., which has 165,000 square feet of space.

It will sit directly across Nationwide Boulevard from Jones Day and a five-story, 95,000-square-foot office building anchored by the San Francisco-based engineering firm URS Corp.

The project is contingent on Columbus City Council approving a 10-year, 75-percent tax abatement on the investment.

Legislation is set for introduction on April 11.

‘Great place to grow’

Columbia Gas, a division of Merrillville, Ind.-based utility NiSource Inc., plans to take at least 208,000 square feet when it moves its 650 employees out of leased offices at 200 Civic Center Drive in the RiverSouth District downtown.

Ellis said the building will have two contiguous floors with an additional 20,000 square feet on each floor available to Columbia Gas if needed.

“Columbia Gas really wanted to make sure the project was multitenant, so we sized it accordingly,” he said. “We think the Arena District is a great place to grow.”

The company asked Nationwide to build additional space in case it expands its downtown operations, including information technology and financial functions as well as a control center for NiSource gas distribution in seven states and centralized dispatch operations for five states.

“The main thing is we’ve been able to build in flexibility in terms of what our needs may be and cover any eventuality in terms of growth,” said Columbia Gas President Jack Partridge.

Columbia Gas moved into the 14-story, 240,000-square-foot RiverSouth building when it was completed in 1983. Partridge said the building layout is less efficient than what they’ll get in the Arena District and it was not pre-wired for technology lines when it was built.

A coming lease expiration in December 2014 prompted NiSource’s corporate real estate department to begin looking for options.

Partridge said the company considered new development land and buildings in Dublin and New Albany, as well as Easton in the city of Columbus.

“We tried to look at every option out there and each option had attractive aspects,” he said. “(But) the Arena District is where we ended up.”

View Arena District building in a larger map

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Business First: Ibiza replacement plan faces hurdles

Columbus real estate investor Mike Schiff first demonstrated an appetite for distressed properties in late 2010 with a relatively conservative play with the discounted purchase of a loan on the former Yankee Trader site near the North Market.

Stepping it up a bit, he purchased the nearly vacant Atlas Building downtown in late February with plans to redevelop the historic property into apartments and perhaps offices.

Now Schiff has worked his way into the Short North to the pocked, vacant site at 830 N. High St. that for the last four years has proven a financial black hole for Apex Realty, the would-be developers of the failed 11-story Ibiza condominium tower. A Schiff-led venture began solidifying its development rights for the property this week when it took over a contract from Columbus’ Core One Properties LLC to buy out Apex’s mortgage for the site. The loan has an outstanding balance of about $4.6 million but any developer could buy it at a discount and control the real estate.

The Ibiza saga goes back to 2006, when Apex first unveiled its plans for the 11-story tower. After numerous delays, the developer told about 70 would-be condo buyers in January 2010 that it would scuttle its bid for 138 condos and pursue apartments instead. Core Properties showed interest a few months later as it began talking to the Finance Fund, a financier of projects in distressed neighborhoods, about buying out the loan and putting apartments on the site.

Schiff said he wants a mix of offices, retail and residential units in a tower similar in scope to the failed Ibiza.

“It will have a much better shot at success than something that’s strictly residential,” he said.

But those plans still offer plenty of risks. For one, Schiff will have to pay off more than $550,000 in past-due property taxes. And those prospective buyers remain in line for an estimated $1.2 million in deposits Apex has yet to return, according to numerous lawsuits filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. Such litigation, and rumors the developer may file for bankruptcy, may impede any plans.

Schiff also will have to go back to the Italian Village Commission since the project’s “certificate of appropriateness” has long since expired. He said he has lined up two unspecified developers to work through the minefield, but the unveiling of a formal plan will take a few months.

“We think we’ll bring Italian Village something they can be happy with,” Schiff said.

Core Properties CEO Jeff Coopersmith did not get specific in outlining his reasons for walking away from the project after nearly a year of trying.

“We basically sold our contract (to develop the site) in order to recover some of our expenses,” he said. “... We just couldn’t figure out how to make it work economically within our risk parameters. It was just too big of a risk.”

Columbus Dispatch: New developer to take over Ibiza's Short North site

Retail, residential, office space planned in Short North tower

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 03:06 AM


A Columbus developer plans to build an office and residential tower on the site of the failed Ibiza condominium project in the Short North.

Schiff Capital Group has assumed control of the site at N. High Street and Hubbard Avenue, principal Michael Schiff said.

Schiff said he plans an eight- to 10-story building to include retail and restaurants on the ground floor, three or four floors of office space and some sort of residential space - probably apartments - on the upper floors.

"We believe that we have a real formula for success there," Schiff said. "The Short North is the hottest area in central Ohio right now, and this is the heart of the Short North."

The deal appears to mark the end for Ibiza. The project, announced in 2006, was to have been the largest condo project in the Short North, with 135 units in two 11-story towers.

But the project was crushed by a collapsing real-estate market, although an estimated 60 buyers deposited a total of about $1million for condominiums in the project. At least 17 investors have sued the developer, ARMS Properties, or its sister company, Apex Realty Enterprises, for their money back. In addition, Franklin County has sued ARMS for about $551,000 in unpaid property taxes.

"All along, the principals at Apex Realty Enterprises and ARMS Properties have promised their investors that if a new developer takes over the project, each person who deposited money would be made whole," said Brian Laliberte, a Columbus attorney who represents 15 investors. "We certainly hope that Apex and ARMS will follow through on that promise."

ARMS officials, who could not be reached for comment, had tried to strike a deal with Columbus developer Core Properties to build apartments on the site. Core backed out of the project after determining that the risk was too high, said Jeffrey Coopersmith, Core's managing partner.

Schiff assumed Core's primary position with the chief lender on the project, the Finance Fund.

"This is a great site, but it requires a different approach than what we're used to doing," Coopersmith said. "We were perfectly happy to give Mike our position."

Schiff said he hopes to work out the details of the development in 60 to 90days and "be able to proceed with construction soon after that."

The development also would include a parking garage off High Street, he said.

"This is a very important site for the entire city," Schiff said. "We see it as becoming a true focal point and meeting place in the Short North."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Columbus Dispatch: More people signed contracts to buy homes in Feb.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More Americans signed contracts to buy homes in February, but sales were uneven across the country and not enough to signal a rebound in the housing market.

Sales agreements for homes rose 2.1 percent last month to a reading of 90.8, according to the National Association of Realtors' pending home sales index released Monday. Sales rose in every region but the Northeast.

Signings were 19.6 percent above June's index reading, the low point since the housing bust. Still, the index is below 100, which is considered a healthy level. The last time it reached that point was in April, the final month people could qualify for a home-buying tax credit.

Contract signings are usually a good indicator of where the housing market is heading. That's because there's usually a one- to two-month lag between a sales contract and a completed deal.

But the Realtors group also noted "a measurable level of contract cancellations" that also occurred in February. Many buyers canceled after appraisals showed the properties were valued much lower than their initial bids.

A sale is not final until a mortgage is closed.

"Therefore, the latest pickup in pending home sales and mortgage applications might not necessarily end up in a measurable pickup in mortgage closings and translate into an increase in existing home sales," said Yelena Shulyatyeva, an analyst at BNP Paribas.

The pace of sales varied from region to region. Signings fell 10.9 percent in the Northeast. They rose 2.7 percent in the South, 4 percent in Midwest and 7 percent in the West.

High unemployment, strict lending standards, and a record number of foreclosures are deterring would-be buyers, who fear home prices haven't reached the bottom.

Sales of previously owned homes fell last year to the lowest level in 13 years. Economists say it will be years before the housing market fully recovers. The rise in foreclosures has pushed the median price of previously occupied homes to its lowest point in nearly 9 years.

New-home sales have fared even worse. Americans are on track to buy fewer new homes than in any year since the government began keeping data almost a half-century ago. Sales are now just half the pace of 1963 - even though there are 120 million more people in the United States now.

Columbus Dispatch: Home prices falling in most major US cities

The link is here

The actual press release and data is below

Blogger note: They do not track Columbus, Ohio and all real estate is local. Your neighborhood might be very different.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Home prices are falling in most major U.S. cities, and the average prices in four of them are at their lowest point in 11 years. Analysts expect further prices declines in most cities in the coming months.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index released Tuesday shows home prices dropped in 19 cities from December to January. Eleven of them are at their lowest level since the housing bust, in 2006 and 2007. The index fell for the sixth straight month.

Home values in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Detroit and Cleveland are now below January 2000 levels. A majority of the metro areas tracked by the index now have home prices at levels dating back to 2003, just as the housing boom began.

The only market where prices rose was Washington, where homes prices gained 0.1 percent month over month.

"The housing market recession is not yet over, and none of the statistics are indicating any form of sustained recovery," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's.

The housing market remains the heaviest burden on the economy, which is showing signs of strength elsewhere. Unemployment benefit applications are at pre-recession lows, consumers are spending more money and manufacturing activity is growing at its fastest rate in seven years.

By contrast, the housing market is coming off its worst year in more than a decade for sales of previously occupied homes and its worst in a half-century for sales of new homes.

High unemployment and tighter lending requirements have kept many people from entering the market. A record number of foreclosures and short sales - when the lender agrees to accept less than what the buyer owes on the mortgage - are pulling down home values. Many would-be buyers are waiting on the sidelines, fearing that the market has yet to bottom out.

"A lot of people are thinking the best thing to do is to stay put or delay until conditions improve," said Jonathan Basile, economist at Credit Suisse Securities.

The pain is not uniform. It is worse in cities flooded by foreclosures and short sales. That includes Detroit and Cleveland, which are struggling with weak local economies. Miami, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Atlanta are reeling from overbuilding during the housing boom.

"Some people who want to buy don't have the time, desire or energy to fix up a foreclosure, so they don't buy them," said Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors Inc. in Miami, where foreclosures or short sales make up two-thirds of the homes sold.

San Diego was the only city besides Washington to show year-over-year gains in home prices, although prices there rose only a scant 0.1 percent.

Washington has stood out for its success in the otherwise tough market. Home prices in the nation's capital are up 3.6 percent year over year and have risen nearly 11 percent since they bottomed out in March 2009. And among the 20 cities, prices there have held up the best since 2000, appreciating almost 84 percent.

The Case-Shiller report measures home price increases and decreases relative to prices in January 2000 and gives an updated three-month average for the metropolitan areas it looks at.


Kravitz reported from Washington.

Case Schiller Index March 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Columbus Dispatch: Property-tax appeals due by Thursday

Sunday, March 27, 2011 03:16 AM


Property owners have four days left to file the initial paperwork if they want to protest Franklin County's valuation for the 2010 tax year.

The Franklin County auditor's office will be open to accept Board of Revision applications until 5 p.m. Thursday. For the first time, the board will take applications by email until midnight.

Emails can be sent to

After the initial paperwork is filed, the board will schedule a hearing to review the complaint.

County officials have added extra staff to the board for what they expect to be a record number of applications.

Last year, they received 8,000 requests to review property values. This year they have projected that 10,000 people will apply.

More information and instructions can be found here

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Central Ohio Homes Sales Off To A Strong Start In 2011

Columbus Board of Realtors:
2011 Home Sales Off To A Strong Start

The post is here

Posted: 3/22/2011
Columbus Board of REALTORS

Home sales for the first two months of the year are just 1.1 percent behind the same period last year suggesting a strong start for the central Ohio housing market according to the Columbus Board of REALTORS® (CBR).

There were 2,178 homes closed in January and February compared to the 2,202 closings during the first two months of 2010. February home sales dipped slightly to 1,128, just 1.3 percent less than the 1,143 homes sold during the same month one year ago.

“Why are we pleased at the small decrease in sales this year” asks Rick Benjamin, CBR President? “At this time last year, the first-time home buyer tax credits were significantly impacting our sales volume. To remain at nearly the same level without that incentive is a positive sign of a strengthening market.”

“Additionally, there were 1,812 residential homes put in contract in February which is 18.7 percent more than February of 2010 (1,527). This also bodes well for March closing activity.”

Franklin County saw 658 homes sell last month and 1,637 more listed for sale, while 137 homes sold and 302 homes were listed in Delaware County.

The City of Columbus topped the charts with 423 sales and 1,023 new listings. Other cities which saw higher sales and listing activity include Dublin, Hilliard, Westerville, Gahanna and Pickerington.

School districts experiencing higher sales and listing volume in February included Columbus, South-Western, Olentangy, Hilliard, Westerville, and Dublin.

“Although, the actual numbers of sales and listings for these districts were higher, we’re fortunate to have many strong school districts in central Ohio, several of which showed larger activity gains when compared to last year,” adds Benjamin. “Every area is different so it pays to ask a REALTOR® to help you interpret the data.”

Click here to view the February housing market report.

The Columbus Board of REALTORS® Multiple Listing Service (MLS) serves all of Franklin, Delaware, Fayette, Madison, Morrow, Pickaway and Union Counties and parts of Champagne, Clark, Hocking, Licking, Fairfield, Knox, Logan, Marion, Muskingham, Perry and Ross Counties.

For more information about the central Ohio housing market, visit

Friday, March 18, 2011

Business First: Columbus Compact putting Old National Trail condos for sale in Olde Towne East

The story is here

Columbus Compact putting Old National Trail condos for sale in Olde Towne East

Date: Friday, March 18, 2011, 9:54am EDT - Last Modified: Friday, March 18, 2011, 3:31pm EDT

View Old National Road Condominiums in a larger map

The renovation of four Victorian-era homes into two-unit condominiums could boost the nonprofit Columbus Compact Corp.’s effort to re-enter the business of market-rate housing three years after the housing bubble burst.

Columbus Compact CEO Jonathan Beard said the first two units of the developer’s Old National Road Condominiums project – from 1023 to 1051 E. Main St. and 379-81 S. Ohio Ave. – have occupancy permits and are set for sale through Carriage Trade Realty.

The remaining six units should be completed between early April and mid-May.

The homes, built in the 1890s, have stood vacant for about 30 years.

“They’re beautiful buildings that had fallen into neglect and blighted the neighborhood,” Beard said.

Columbus Compact’s Olde Towne East Restorations LLC affiliate in August received $800,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants through the city of Columbus to help pay for half of the $1.6 million renovation project.

The three-level properties will go on the market for $89,900 for 1,200-square-foot units and $105,400 for 1,500-square-foot units. Beard said the properties could be leased with a purchase option. Those interested in the Old National Road condos also may be swayed by a 12-year, 100-percent tax abatement on real estate improvements, and a $5,000 incentive for those who sign purchase contracts by June 1.

Near East Side projects sidelined

Columbus Compact had put for-sale housing development on the sidelines on the Near East Side in recent years amid the recession. It switched plans for turning apartments on Sherman Avenue at Oak Street into condos and opted instead to keep them as rentals. Thirteen of the 15 are occupied.

Columbus Compact’s City Heritage LLC affiliate also had begun marketing a 52-unit market-rate condo project near Franklin Park in early 2008, but the project secured only four of the necessary nine contracts it needed to qualify for bank financing on its first 18-unit section.

“We got into the (preparation of) construction documents and the housing market dropped out,” Beard said about the project’s demise. (Beard talked in more detail about Columbus Compact’s Main Street efforts in an interview with Columbus Business First in 2008.)

Revival of that project, he said, will not be looked at until the nonprofit can figure out how to spur the nearby redevelopment of a former “trolley barn” that awaits a commercial redevelopment plan.

“We’re taking our time,” he said, “slogging through it.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Starting Today: Watch Time Warner Cable on your iPad for FREE!

The iTunes link is here

The Time Warner Website is here


Now you can watch your favorite networks on your iPad in your home! If you are a Time Warner Cable video subscriber, the FREE TWCable TV™ app turns your iPad into another TV screen and lets you watch selected live cable TV channels with your home WiFi connection. Watch Bravo from your bedroom, take Food Network with you to the kitchen, or catch up on CNBC news from the breakfast table. Watch selected live streaming TV channels now, and stay tuned for future releases with additional channels and expanded app functionality from Time Warner Cable. More

Current Features

Watch live cable TV on your iPad in the home
Enjoy a selection of cable favorites from your Time Warner Cable video subscription on your iPad, anywhere in your home.

- Just tap and start watching live streaming TV instantly.
- Scroll through the easy-to-use Channel Guide to see what’s on now, and what’s coming next.
- Use your home’s existing WiFi connection – no need for extra hookups.
- The app is FREE!

Parental Advisory

TWCable TV™ does not currently offer parental control capability. To prevent viewing by minors, please remember to sign out when you are finished viewing live TV.

· iPad with iOS 4
· Time Warner Cable video package at the Standard (Expanded Basic) level or higher
· WiFi connection to Time Warner Cable Internet Service (Road Runner Standard or higher recommended for best experience; Earthlink High Speed or Earthlink Cable Max is supported)
· Time Warner Cable username and password

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Columbus Dispatch: Central Ohio's growth leading state

Four of the state's five fastest growing counties in the past decade were in central Ohio, including Delaware, whose 58.4-percent population growth topped the list.

Columbus bucks downward trend of other cities

Thursday, March 10, 2011 04:21 AM


Central Ohio became more diverse while growing at a 14 percent clip over the past decade, with the Latino population swelling in particular, census figures released yesterday show.

And while the exodus from the city of Cleveland continued, the city of Columbus surged. With roughly 787,000 residents, Columbus is now almost twice as big as Cleveland.

"Without Columbus, we'd be looking at Michigan (population losses) times two," said Nancy Reger, a demographer with the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission. "Central Ohio is ... absolutely carrying the state. It's a place where people want to live. They stay here."

In fact, the seven-county central Ohio region had four of the top five fastest-growing counties. Delaware topped the list, as it did in the 2000 census, with a 58 percent growth rate. Franklin County came in 13th (8.8 percent).

The region's increase outpaced the state, which grew by 1.6 percent. "In the 1990s, it was the same deal," Reger said.

The data released yesterday offer the first detailed look at Ohio's population from the 2010 census. It included population and race counts.

In central Ohio, the number of Latinos more than doubled in every county except Pickaway, where it grew 77 percent. In 1990, Latinos represented 1 percent of Franklin County's population. In 2010, they numbered almost 56,000 residents, or about 5 percent of the population.

"Columbus offers a good social and economic community," said John O. Ramos, acting Ohio director of the League of United Latin American Citizens. "On a personal level, I know plenty of friends of mine who've moved from Cleveland and relocated to Columbus."

The state's white population dropped from 84 percent to about 81 percent in the past decade. In 1990, more than 87 percent of Ohioans were white.

Latino residents increased by 63 percent over the past decade, to 354,000 Ohioans. The jump is almost 154 percent over two decades. Latinos now are about 3.1 percent of Ohio's 11.54 million residents, up from 1.9 percent in 2000 and 1.3 percent in 1990.

Other racial minorities also grew faster than the number of white residents in the past decade. The number of blacks increased by 7.6 percent, to 1.39 million. The state's Asian population grew about 45 percent, to almost 191,000.

Black residents continued to move into the northern and eastern parts of central Ohio, with Fairfield County showing the largest percentage increase in the state, at 165 percent, to about 8,600 black residents. Delaware and Licking counties were also in the top five in percentage increases in black residents.

Union County led the state in the growth of the Asian population, shooting up 545 percent, just ahead of Delaware County, which was up 339 percent.

Among the five largest cities in Ohio, Columbus was the only one to grow, with a 10.6 percent increase to 787,033 people. Cleveland had the largest fall (17.1 percent).

"We've made a point in investing in our quality of life over the years," said Dan Williamson, a spokesman for Columbus Mayor

Michael B. Coleman. "Clearly, Columbus is a place where people want to live."

Franklin County added more people than any other county in Ohio - more than 94,000 - bringing its population to 1.16 million. It ranked second behind Cuyahoga County, which had 1.28 million residents in 2010, down 8.2 percent from a decade earlier.

Delaware County added more than 64,000 residents, but several other central Ohio suburbs also grew tremendously over the past decade, which could force three of them - Canal Winchester, Groveport and New Albany - to incorporate into cities because they now have more than 5,000 residents. Granville also topped 5,000, but the figure included college students from Denison University.

The village of New Albany had the fastest growth among area cities, climbing 108 percent to 7,724 residents.

Before yesterday, only state-level census data were available for Ohio. That showed Ohio's population grew 1.6 percent in the past decade, to 11,536,504.

Because other parts of the nation have grown more, the state will lose two seats in the House of Representatives, down to 16.

Friday, March 4, 2011

NBC 4: 'Mobile Offices' Available [Tomorrow] For Help With Board of Revision Application [To Lower Your Property Taxes]


A pair of ‘mobile offices’ will assist county residents file Board of Revision applications before the deadline on Thursday, March 31.

Franklin County property owners who feel their property value is too high may file a request to lower the value with the Board of Revision.

“We are aware that interest in the Board of Revision filing process is at an all-time high,” Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo said. “It is now more important than ever that we educate and familiarize Franklin County home and business owners to this property tax reduction opportunity.”

There are expected to be more than the record amount of 8,101 requests for property revaluations that were filed just this past year.

Prior to the deadline in 2009, 6,741 were filed.

Staff from the Franklin County Auditor’s Office will help county residents fill out Board of Revision applications on Tuesday, March 1 beginning at 12:30 p.m. at the Evans Senior Center, located at 4330 Dudley Ave in Grove City.
Residents looking for assistance in the application process also can visit the mobile office on Saturday, March 5 at 950 E. Main St. in Columbus.

Staff will be there starting at 10 a.m.

The Franklin County Board of Revision hears formal complaints on property valuations.

Filing a complaint allows property owners to present their case before the Board of Revision, which is comprised of representatives of the County Auditor, Treasurer and Commissioner.

Board of Revision applications will be accepted until March 31 at 5 p.m.

You can get an application by clicking here.

Property owners can submit requests in person, through the mail or via fax at (614) 525-6252.

In the event a property owner is successful in reducing their property value, a refund of any overpayment of taxes collected based on the higher value will be refunded or credited to their upcoming tax bill.

For more information, please visit or call (614) 525-7399.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Columbus Underground: Short North Neighborhoods Launch New Signs

The Short North Foundation, in partnership with The Short North Civic Association, Italian Village Society, and Harrison West Society, is pleased to announce the installation of 15 new neighborhood signs.

The new signs, which feature the iconic arch design of the Short North area, share a cohesive look but are distinct according to each individual neighborhood. They have been installed in The Circles, Dennison Place, Italian Village, Harrison West, and Victorian Village and will replace deteriorated, unmatched signs that were scattered throughout the neighborhoods. All of the signs are framed with galvanized, powder-coated steel. The sign program as a whole was intended to resemble Columbus Recreation and Parks’ neighborhood park signs.

Read more here