Monday, June 27, 2011

Cooper Park Development Moves Forward In Columbus



For Immediate Release: June 27, 2011

For More Information:

John Ivanic

Cooper Park Development Moves Forward

(Columbus)--The Columbus City Council unanimously voted to rezone 1215 West Mound Street, the Cooper Stadium site, from Rural to Commercial Planned Development, but not before making significant amendments to the legislation that will give increased powers to the City’s code enforcement effort. Among the changes to the application, the City Council clearly outlines enforceable language in the zoning application to strengthen the design, material and construction standards for the proposed sound wall, require a periodic inspection of a sound wall, and create a compliance review to occur one year after the beginning of operations at the site. The legislation also empowers the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) to limit the dates and times of all spectator events, not just motorsport events at the site.

“This has been one of the most carefully researched and considered decisions this City Council has ever made,” said A. Troy Miller, chair of the Zoning Committee. “We have received hundreds of e-mails, dozens of phone calls, held public hearings and realize that this is still an issue that divides many in the community.”

The vote is the latest step, not the last, in the process that may lead to the creation of Cooper Park, a creative reuse of a current brown field. Cooper Park will turn the site into mixed use educational and entertainment development with a proposed investment of $40-million that would revitalize the property, creating an estimated 300 jobs, an automotive research and development facility, restaurants and convention space that would serve as a regional attraction and provide and economic boost to the west side of Columbus. The BZA now will be asked to approve a special permit for any spectator events at Cooper Park.

“We believe that the amendments offered this evening will strengthen the zoning application, giving the BZA the ability to better to monitor and regulate events at the site, ensuring the development will be a good neighbor, not just in word, but in action,” said Miller.


Columbus Dispatch: ComFest volunteers fill the three days reducing 'footprint' for a clean park

It's not easy being green

ComFest volunteers fill the three days reducing 'footprint' for a clean park

Sunday, June 26, 2011 03:11 AM


In nearly four decades, the Community Festival has always been concerned with the "footprint" it leaves on the environment - even a bare foot in the mud.

Put simply, ComFest says: "No Planet, No Party."

The festival that began in 1972 near Ohio State University was powered by the youthful idealism of the civil-rights movement, opposition to the Vietnam War, and "Earth Day" concerns for the environment.

That emphasis continues today as organizers struggle to cope with the giant footprint ComFest leaves - an estimated 21tons of cans, bottles, glass, plastic, cardboard and food waste.

Early yesterday, before the music started on six stages, the beer spigots began pouring and the staple "fish boats" sandwiches were cooking, volunteers clad in green T-shirts combed the 40-acre park to collect trash and recyclables.

"We are very aware of the impact a festival like this has on the landscape," said Connie Everett, an organizer of the all-volunteer event. "Recycling and cleanup are very important to us."

But it's not easy being green. That's where Brandi Kegley comes in.

As head of the cleanup committee, Kegley will work more than 30hours in three days, directing the efforts of 350 volunteers.

"Volunteering makes the festival happen," she said. "You have to be willing to do the dirty work.."

Kegley, 28, has a lot on her plate in addition to ComFest. She works at an Olive Garden restaurant, is a yoga therapist and has a rescue dog, Optimus. After eight years as a ComFest volunteer, she will soon leave Columbus to start a holistic wellness center in Colorado.

She said keeping the 160-year old park clean is only part of the job. Recycling is the other task; ComFest attacks it with passion.

Patrons are encouraged to help by separating cans, plastic and nonrecyclable trash. Bins are also available for organic food waste - about one ton of it.

Mike Minnix, who bills himself as president and chief Dumpster-diver for Eartha Limited, a Columbus recycling company, said his company will take the food waste to a composting facility, where it will be mixed with yard waste, wood chips and other material, and made into soil mulch.

Thousands of wine bottles will be collected by Eartha, destined for a group called Candles with a Cause, Minnix said. The tops of the bottles will be cut off and the bottoms made into candles to be sold to area restaurants.

Kegley said ComFest uses beer cups made of corn-based material for easier recycling and fills water bottles on site, free, to avoid overuse of plastic.

And those footprints in the mud? They're covered with mulch.

It's an exhausting three days for all ComFest volunteers, especially the cleanup crews.

"It's a great way to work with people in my community," Kegley said. "The reward for me is knowing I am a part of something that brings everyone together."

Columbus: One of the 10 best cities to buy rental property

10 best cities to buy rental property

Would-be homebuyers are sitting on the sidelines now, and many are spending their time in rentals despite the housing bargains out there. It could be a great time to buy a house to rent.

By Jason Notte, TheStreet

The American dream of homeownership has dissolved into the daydream of a decent rental, and some cities are making it very easy on their month-to-month newcomers. Vacancies among the nation's rental properties dropped from 6.6% last year to 6.2% last quarter as 44,000 more units found renters during that period than during the same period a year earlier, according to Reis. That's the largest increase during that normally slow winter period since 2000 and the lowest vacancy rate since 2008.

Slight improvements in job growth and employment figures are driving demand for housing again, but even the 4.5% rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage quoted by Fannie Mae in June -- the lowest since December -- hasn't kept year-to-date existing-home sales from plummeting to 13% of what they were just before the first-time homebuyer credit expired during the same period last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. The foreclosure rate is leveling off, according to RealtyTrac, but the U.S. Census Bureau found that U.S. homeownership dropped from 69% in 2004 to 66.5% at the end of last year.

The $163,700 median existing-home price is 5% lower than it was a year ago, but potential homebuyers facing 9.1% national unemployment and tight credit requiring a 20% down payment on home purchases are content to wait it out in a rental.

Potential landlords love to hear that. Average asking prices ($1,047) and actual paid rent ($991) are up roughly 2% as 79 cities reported rent increases and shrinking rental stock. Reis noted that landlords who were offering incentive packages a year ago that gave tenants three to four months free on 12- to 15-month leases have cut those concessions to a month or less.

Here are the best 10 places (recommended by Reis) to buy a rental property and cash in on rising rents and dwindling supplies.

Columbus Ohio

  • Vacancy rate: 8.6%
  • Average rent: $690

Ample vacancies, low rents and continued rent growth are great, but you know what makes them even better? Throwing them into the middle of a college town.

Whether you're a renter or a potential rental property buyer, Columbus, Ohio., has a lot to offer. As with many state capitals that also happen to be home to state universities, Columbus is insulated from economic upheaval by government jobs and a stable employer at Ohio State University. Unemployment is 7.3%, well below the national average.

Unfortunately, it's not immune to economic pressure on the real-estate market and has seen average home prices fall from $140,000 in 2008 to $114,000 today. That includes a 9.1% collapse in the past year alone. Though Columbus' 8.6% vacancy rate is still high, it's actually shrunk since last year and has spurred a 1.2% increase in the city's average rent within the past year.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Columbus City Council President Supports Race Track at Copper Stadium Site


For Immediate Release: June 23, 2011
For More Information: John Ivanic

A statement from Columbus City Council President Andrew J. Ginther regarding the proposed rezoning and redevelopment of Cooper Stadium:

Cooper Stadium was once a vibrant and exciting place to catch a baseball game, one of Columbus’ greatest assets, and a source of pride for the Westside. It now sits empty and neglected, a shell of its former self. However, I believe this historic site can once again be an asset in our community – a focal point of entertainment, job creation and economic development.

Arshot Investment Corporation, a local developer, has invested more than 3 years of time, research and resources in an extraordinary effort to build community support and consensus for their proposal to redevelop Cooper Stadium. They have proposed a $40 million investment to breathe new life into this site; to build a half-mile racetrack, an automotive research and technology center, a hotel and restaurants. The development is expected to create at least 300 jobs at a time when they are desperately needed.

The proposal has met opposition, and there have been many questions posed to the Developer and to the City. I know that I and every member of Columbus City Council have heard the concerns, and we have listened to our constituents. We have pushed back on the developer, and worked to make sure that the community’s concerns were not just considered, but that they were addressed by the developer.

The Southwest Area Commission supports the development, and the Southwest Civic Association has signed good neighbor agreement with Arshot which clearly outlines community expectations. City Council has focused on strong, enforceable standards in the zoning legislation, adding additional language to hold the developer accountable.

What’s more, we expect that many of the terms of the good neighbor agreement and the Council zoning legislation will become part of the special permit the developer is required to obtain from the Bureau of Zoning Adjustment (BZA).

It’s through our zoning code and the terms of the special permit that we have the ability to truly hold Arshot to their word. The City will have the ability to enforce the terms of the special permit, to monitor for compliance and to take action to revoke the permit if necessary. That is, if you don’t follow through on your word, we’ll shut you down.

In the past few months, City Council has received hundreds of e-mails, letters and phone calls regarding Cooper Park. While some members of the community still express concern surrounding the development, there are just as many, if not more, who are supportive of the motor park concept.

I believe this development has tremendous potential to provide much needed jobs, educational opportunities and create a regional entertainment attraction that will help create the momentum needed to keep the Westside on the right track.

That is why Monday evening, I will be supporting the rezoning application and I urge my colleagues on Council to do the same.

I do want to acknowledge the leadership of our Mayor. Like Council, Mayor Coleman has taken a critical approach to this development, and has challenged the developer to do more to address community concerns. Because of the Mayor’s efforts, we have a much better proposal today.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WSYX-TV: Italian Village Break-Ins

The story and video is here

Italian Village Break-Ins

COLUMBUS -- Neighbors in the Italian Village community are trying to put a stop to a rash of break ins.

Theives have been targeting homes and cars within the last two weeks. Homes on Kerr street and Russell street have been targeted.

The Italian Village block watch is aware of the crime spree and are asking neighbors to take extra precautions and to report anything suspicious.

The coordinator for the block watch, Amelia Costanzo, says they are looking to start a foot patrol in hopes of putting an end to the crime spree.

For more information about the block watch and how you can get involved you are encouraged to visit their website.


Reporter: Maria Durant
Web Producer: Derek Drake

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Central Ohio May Housing Report Shows Increasing Activity

Housing Activity Increasing

(June 21, 2011) The central Ohio housing market was active last month as more homes were put on the market and in contract compared to last year. There were 2,610 homes for sale that went into contract (but haven’t closed) which was up 44.8 percent over the 1,803 homes put in contract during May 2010 according to the Columbus Board of REALTORS®.

As for inventory, there were 3,723 homes added to the market in May 2011, up 10.6 percent from the 3,366 new listings during the same month one year ago.

“In contracts and new listings are both important housing market indicators,” says Rick Benjamin, 2011 President of the Columbus Board of REALTORS®. “Having such strong increases in both areas is a healthy sign for the central Ohio housing market.”

Currently, there are approximately 15,146 residential homes available for sale in the central Ohio area – 12,322 single family homes and 2,824 condominiums.

Home prices continue to inch up, with May’s average sale price up 2.6 percent over April. However, May’s average sale price of $158,191 was down 4.7 percent from the same period in 2010.

Homes closed last month reached 1,875, up 15.7 percent over April home closings, but were down 25 percent from May of 2010. “May of 2010 was a busy month for home sales as so many buyers were on their way to the closing table after meeting the home buyer tax credit deadline,” offers Benjamin. “But sales are up over 2009 when we were in the midst of the first round of home buyer tax incentives which is yet another positive sign.”

Click here to view the May sortable housing market report by area.

Click here to view the entire central Ohio Local Market Update.

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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Columbus City Council Holds Zoning Hearing To Discuss Cooper Stadium RaceTrack Development

City Council Holds Zoning Hearing To Discuss Cooper Stadium Development

Councilmember A. Troy Miller

Various Councilmembers

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
5:30 pm

Columbus City Council Chambers

City Hall, 2nd Floor

90 West Broad Street

Columbus, OH 43215


Councilmember A. Troy Miller, chair of the Zoning Committee, will hold a public hearing to discuss the application to rezone Cooper Stadium from Rural District to Commercial Planned Development District.

Speaker slips will be accepted on the day of the hearing and can be filled out beginning at 8 am at the City Hall security desk near the Front Street entrance of the building. Speaker slips will be accepted until 6 pm in

Council Chambers. Parking is free after 5 pm at City Hall and the meeting will be broadcast live on CTV, Columbus’ public broadcast channel 3 on local cable systems.

City Council is expected to hold a first reading on the Cooper Stadium zoning application June 20 at 6:30 pm. Per rules of Council, during this meeting, no speakers will be accepted.

The next possible date City Council could take action on the application would be Monday, June 27 at 6:30 pm during the regularly schedule Zoning Committee meeting. Per rules of Council, three speakers will be allowed to speak in favor of the application, and three will be allowed to speak in opposition. All speakers will have three minutes each to present with speakers addressing City Council in the order their slips were submitted to the City Clerk’s office.

Speaker slips are available at the City Hall security desk located at the Front Street entrance to the building beginning at 8 am on the day of the hearing. Speaker slips are not accepted before hearing dates. It is the policy of City Council that speaker slips must be delivered personally by the individual wishing to speak. A security guard will timestamp each speaker slip that then can be placed a box to be collected by City Council staff.

Those wishing to provide written testimony or other documentation should provide no fewer than seven copies to the Zoning Committee Chair prior to the hearing.

To view detailed rules for speaking before City Council, go to

Signs and banners are not permitted in Council Chambers.