Thursday, September 27, 2007


breaking news
City will buy ailing City Center mall for $2.88 million
Thursday, September 27, 2007 10:27 AM

Columbus has struck a deal with the owners of Columbus City Center to take over the struggling Downtown mall.

According to a source with Capitol South Urban Redevelopment Corp., the nonprofit developer created by the city in the 1980s to build City Center, Columbus will pay Simon Property Group and General Motors Pension Trust $2.88 million for the mall as well as vacant land at the northeast corner of S. High and E. Rich streets.

For more ..

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Cleopatra's (e. 8th and n. high)- hookah bar

swash store (near ubx)- Tide product that allows you to rewear clothes.

pitaya (gateway) - women's boutique

aveda institute (gateway)- grooming
re-n-vintage (near little brothers)- vintage boutique

Dee's Shoes (between the adult stores) - shoes

Friday, September 21, 2007


There is a lot of discussion regarding bringing retail and residential development to downtown Columbus but there is little mention about creating new cultural activity centers/attractions in the heart of the City. Cultural destinations not only help educate but they attract people and their money. Retail and residential projects will follow the trail of money.

As the country’s 15th most populated city, Columbus is severely lacking in unique cultural institutions/attractions that can attract tourists and regularly engage its resident population. Not counting the Clippers or Blue Jacket Stadiums since the Arena District is its own distinctive neighborhood and not truly downtown, Columbus is limited to:
Columbus Museum of Art
Wexner Center for the Arts
Riffe Gallery
Santa Maria
Central Ohio Fire Museum
Ohio, Palace and Southern Theatres
Franklin Park Conservatory (somewhat downtown)
Assorted historic buildings such as Kelton Museum, Thurber House, etc.
Many of these sites do not warrant repeat visits (ie Santa Maria, Central Ohio Fire Museum) and collectively may not even occupy a full weekend visit.

Since I am not a city planner for Columbus I do not know if they are actively recruiting cultural centers to locate in downtown or even proactively purchasing property to court future leads with. New centers do open (ie Newseum, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, etc) and we need to be prepared to be a serious contender in being their host city.

In saying that, I would really like to see a greater diversity of attraction offerings downtown. I think it would be great for the Motorcycle Hall of Fame to relocate from Pickerington to downtown Columbus. I think the museum could have a great urban downtown street presence with a unique architectural design and fun window displays. Even better is that they have approximately 20,000 visitors annually.

One thing that I am excited about is that Elevator's brewing operations will be moving to Fourth Street so brewery tours are a strong possibility. However, brewery tours alone won't fill the attraction void downtown.
So what do you think?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Walking Town DC is day long heritage and arts program in Washington, DC that is absolutely brilliant. Throughout the day Cultural Tourism DC coordinates 45 different walking, biking, and boating tours in the 18 different neighborhoods across the city. The tours are all led by knowledgeable guides and cover topics ranging from spies to environmentally friendly buildings. The best part is that all the tours are FREE which provides individuals from all different socio-economic backgrounds the opportunity to learn about and appreciate their city. While DC is extremely rich in culture, arts, architecture and history, Columbus possesses its own unique attributes that should be shared with residents and tourists alike. If you think about it the potential tour topics are endless....


I want a Restaurant Week in Columbus.

Restaurant Week began in 1992 in New York City to coincide with the Democratic National Convention when restaurant sales were sluggish. Since then both large and small cities have begun hosting their own versions of Restaurant Week. Restaurant Week in NYC has become the largest culinary event in the country.

The premise is simple. For a determined length of time participating restaurants create lunch and dinner menus for a set price. Lunch is typically between $20 and $25 and dinner about $30 to $35. Alcohol is additional and guests can always order of the normal menu. Depending on the demand, most Restaurant Weeks take place twice a year, last one to two weeks, and helps raise funds for a local charity.

So why should Columbus host a Restaurant Week?

Of the top 25 most populated American cities only nine of them including Columbus do not host a Restaurant Week. Come on…even Milwaukee has one.

Columbus is a great restaurant town and a week dedicated to celebrating local restaurateurs and chefs is appropriate.

Allows guests to take advantage of fine dining at a discounted price.

Great marketing tool for restaurants since many patrons will be first time guests. Word of mouth testimonials are the best form of advertising.

Promotes a business trickle down effect. Patrons visit new neighborhoods and discover stores, restaurants, and other businesses they did not know existed.

Gets people on the streets and enjoying their city.

Because I am tired of hearing from friends in other cities how much they love their Restaurant Week.

I am still waiting for Experience Columbus, the natural candidate to develop a Restaurant Week, to respond to my inquiry. However, since the receptionist did not know what a Restaurant Week was I strongly doubt they are cooking anything up down there.

Other cities that host Restaurant Weeks are: NYC, Houston, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Austin, Baltimore, Fort Worth, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Seattle, and Boston. Check them out.



More than 5,000 poll workers are needed on Election Day in Franklin County. The Board of Elections is presently searching for poll workers to staff any or all of the next three elections; the Nov. 6, 2007 general election, the March 4, 2008 primary election and the Nov. 4, 2008 general election. You must be a registered Franklin County voter to be eligible.

We need your help:

Franklin County pays poll workers $110 and more depending on the position held and level of training completed.

Easy two-hour courses are offered throughout Franklin County a few weeks before each election. We’ll provide on-site training at your workplace if at least 25 employees register.

Republicans call (614) 462-5209
Democrats call (614) 462-5206
Or register online at

Monday, September 17, 2007


I really hate overgrown street trees. This man-eating monstrosity is just one of several along E. 3rd Avenue in the Italian Village that attacked my visiting friends over the weekend.
Neglected trees are not only unattractive but they are less structurally stable and a genuine threat to public safety especially for mobility challenged individuals.
The City of Columbus Department of Parks and Recreation oversees the maintenance of street trees since they are technically located on public property. A call to the 311 city information line or Parks Department (645-6640) will net you an inspector within three weeks but the actual pruning will take an additional six to nine months due to under staffing. The only other alternative is to apply for a permit to prune the tree yourself and knowing my abilities that would not be good for the tree or me.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Triple Sow Cow No More

The cancellation of Skate on State is not a surprise. I want to see a show of hands of everyone that strapped on skates this past winter….anyone…anyone?
If you think of popular outdoor ice skating rinks you might think of Rockefeller Center and National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden where tourists, downtown dwellers, shopping, and nostalgia all contribute to making ice skating a popular and desirable activity. Since we are a city still in the infancy stage of developing a dense and vibrant downtown core we must be more creative in replicating that energy naturally inherent in these bigger cities. The opportunity to ice skate outdoors is not enough of a draw for people. To make Skate on State a successful event organizers need to develop supporting activities/events/programming that brings people downtown for a multiple number of reasons over a greater length of time.

So what types of programming?? Here are a couple of ideas.

The now cancelled Striezelmarkt, modeled after Dresden’s (Germany) centuries-old outdoor holiday market, used to take place in front of City Hall over ten days. Since retail shopping is so limited in downtown Columbus this event brought shopping opportunities to the people even if for only a limited amount of time. The availability of shopping and food concessions during the day and evening hours would appeal to several different population segments including workers, students, tourists, etc. The market was also a great tribute and promotion of Columbus’s sister city relationship with Dresden.

What about Roller Girls on Ice? These women have a tremendous following (including me) and they pack people in at all of their bouts. While there are no matches in December the league promotes fun promotion and fundraising activities throughout the year. Why not recruit an event with the local Blue Jackets? Dare I mention Disney on Ice promotional event? I abhor anything “on ice” but they frequently come to town so why not do a free show marketing piece with them. Clearly there are liability issues that would need to be worked out but we need to take a greater advantage of already existing resources.

The Pageant of Peace held in Washington, DC across from the White House is an annual holiday tradition that thousands turn out for to watch the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. There is also a menorah and other religious symbols included in the event. Why not create a similar tradition in Columbus?

Drop a few ideas yourself. Dialogue is good.

Skate on State cancellation article.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I admit I am a Suds and Java patron. I wash my unmentionables in the public eye. Every so often in the midst of the fluff and fold, I learn something.

You all may have noticed Suds and Java's N. High parking lot torn up recently and assumed it was just some more impervious asphalt going down. Nope. Based on the laundry mat attendant, the landowner is putting in a three to four-story apartment building and a retail store. The current tenants are not amused by the plan because the new development will partially block them from the street. I sympathize but the current strip mall style building ain't that charming so I say block it as long as appropriate signage allows for them to advertise their wares. Customer parking will still exist but will be in the back of the apartment building.

I am a little nervous about the building design but I like to believe the existing Planning Commission has learned from past mistakes. At least the project shows promise in reconnecting a disjointed street facade and providing more housing options for almost downtown dwellers.


The For Sale sign is down....
I have long admired this abandoned Masonic Temple building. The building is ideally situated on High Street just north of Fifth Avenue. The bones of this structure appear to be in good shape and the stained glass, awning, and ornamentation are also all in tact.
I have hoped a local business developer would see this building's potential and convert this temple into a boutique hotel/bar/restaurant/lounge similar to what the McMenamin family does in Portland, Oregon. For those not familiar with McMenamins, they rescue architecturally/ historically significant buildings, rehabilitate them, and turn them into hot spot destinations. This family makes a killing saving unique old buildings that have been neglected in favor of new construction. Check out their website....
Fingers crossed that this isn't the new home of Buffalo Wild Wings Short North.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Danielle Steel Novel Jackpot

Huge amounts of books! Tiny little prices! Don't miss the annual Friends of the Library Big Book Sale at Main Library! This is your chance to browse through hundreds of gently-used gems and bulk up your bookshelf for mere pennies. It's happening Friday, Sept. 14 (Friends Members Presale) from 5 - 8:30. The general sale is Saturday, Sept. 15 from 10-5 and Sunday, Sept. 16 from 1-3 with the bag sale following on Sunday from 3:15-5:30. Stop by Main Library and see what you can find...nothing over $2! Published on September 11, 2007.
Actually there are always some good finds here....check it out.


I look forward to my drive home from work every day because of this guy. How can you not smile back? Sometimes I imagine that he winks at me. Fresh Guy calls the Wonder Bread Bakery on Fourth Street home.
These hand painted signs on the exteriors of businesses are scattered throughout Columbus and most other cities across the country. Typically these advertisements are referred to as “ghost signs” since they typically advertise no longer existing businesses. Sadly, lettered signs on brick have been replaced by plastic and lighted signs to better attract customers and to comply with modern sign code ordinances.

I strongly believe these signs should be included in a community’s public art inventory and the more unique ones granted preservation status. These signs are architectural features that dramatically improve the exteriors of humdrum brick buildings. Simply put, these signs give personality to neighborhoods and business districts that have grown bland and sterile over the years.

There are a lot of great blogs that track “ghost signs” but one of my favorites is Admittedly my personal collection of “ghost signs” in Columbus has grown over the past year but I hope to devote more time to tracking them down. If you know of any candidates for inclusion send me the location and any history on the business that you might have. My hope is to produce piece for Experience Columbus that they can provide to visitors and residents alike who are interested in seeing a different perspective of the city.

Monday, September 10, 2007


I have it bad for the Columbus Metropolitan Library. Our first dalliance happened by accident about a year ago and since then has become somewhat of a minor obsession.

Libraries are sexy and deserve to be talked about in the urban planning arena. Too often proponents of city living focus on what needs to be improved rather than commending highly-functioning and positively impacting entities, events, or persons for their contributions to the urban landscape. The Columbus Metropolitan Library is such an example.

In 2005, American Libraries magazine ranked the Columbus library system number one in the country for communities with 500,000 plus persons. In 2006, it slipped to number three but if Nancy Kerrigan can settle for bronze so can I. The 2007 rankings will be announced in November and I am expecting a way better performance than Britney at the Video Music Awards last night.

Rankings aside, the Columbus library system is just an amazing public entity that gives and gives and only asks that you return checked out materials on time. Sadly, I owe a $1.20 right this very minute but just like a too nice friend; I am still allowed to borrow more materials without being pushed to repay my debt.

So why do I have a mad crush on CPL?

Ability to reserve any materials online and have them sent to any library branch for pick-up. Conversely, all materials can be returned to any branch for added convenience.

Each branch is well-lit, secure, and inviting which allows people to feel safe and welcome during their visits

Friendly, knowledgeable librarians and support staff that WANT you to ask questions especially about book recommendations. There is always a daily book recommendation on the main page and you can sign up for additional book recommendations via email

Their media collection is current and rivals Blockbuster and Virgin combined. I like knowing that 50 cent can come home with me at the same time as Ella.

Availability of self-check out makes getting in and out quick simple. It also allows persons to check out potentially embarrassing materials without judgment. Care Bear and Friends the Movie may or may not be in my reserve list. I am only comforted be the fact that there are 2 other people on the waitlist before me.

All libraries have multiple computers and internet access and some have wifi. IT access is especially important to job seekers as many employers including those in the service industry have begun to only post openings online and requires applications to be submitted online.

The list goes on and on….tutoring resources, children’s programming, voter registration, public events, etc.

So visit and get started but be sure to visit the main branch, an original Carnegie library, at 96 S Grant Avenue in downtown Columbus.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Case of the Missing Patio

Patios in Columbus are hard to come by especially in the Short North stretch due to limited properties having much depth between the curb and building facade. One such exception is Rojo Tequileria adjacent to Union Station and Haiku both of which are relishing in their patio business. While both of these businesses have found gold in their patios, Rojo has chosen to make their huge frontage a drive up valet. Why when every other business with valet uses curb check? Rojo could literally double or triple the table space of their small restaurant and take advantage of Columbus's great spring-fall weather. Throw out some heat lamps and a great awning for the winter and cold nights and it is still a fiesta. We have all had our thirst and daily woes quenched by one...two...three...pitchers of margaritas so why not make a party of it.

Alright Nancy Drews...find me Rojo's patio.


Here are a couple pictures of the completely demolished AAA Rental Building. Good riddance although I did appreciate the retro rounded canopy along the sidewalk.

So what shall replace bad banquet rental offerings? Rajesh Lahoti is expanding his real estate and business empire with a new retail, condo, and parking garage complex that if based on the Dakota's design should be a great addition to the neighborhood. Height set-backs on the fourth floor will keep the building from overwhelming pedestrians and drivers along High.

Now all Rajesh has to do is update his website with the design aspects and I will be happy.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Choo Choo- All Aboard

The Ohio Rail Development Commission is trying to bring passenger rail to Ohio. Currently there is no passenger rail servicing Columbus but under the proposed plan the City could become the second hub for the system after Cincy. The four major and three secondary discussed routes include:

Cleveland-Toledo-Detroit via the “preferred” route serving Detroit Metro Airport
Cleveland-Pittsburgh via the “preferred” route serving Youngstown
Cleveland-Erie-Buffalo-Niagara Falls-Toronto

Columbus-Pittsburgh via the “Panhandle” route
Columbus-Toledo with through service continuing on to Detroit
Columbus-Lima-Fort Wayne with through service continuing on to Chicago

Benefits of passenger rail are astounding including increased mobility, environmentally responsiblility, and economic growth.

For those who have ridden the rails in Europe, you can attest to how convenient and easy passenger rail is for the daily traveler. One of the greatest perks is that trains are rarely impacted by weather and other traffic greatly reducing the amount of travel delays. Additionally, when riding the train you do not need to arrive 1 or 2 hours in advance of the departure time. All you need to do is be at the terminal a few minutes beforehand with your computer printed ticket in hand or even more convenient, with money to buy a ticket on board.

In order to help push for passenger rail in Ohio, contact your city council/development department to encourage them to pass a resolution in support of the federal government funding an Environmental Impact Statement. Twenty-five communities and organizations have already passed such a resolution with the City of Gahanna currently discussing such a possibility.

GET UPSET- Firestone Mansion to be Demolished

The historic Firestone Mansion owned by the normally good-doing Columbus Foundation is set to be demolished as part of their expansion plan. React and speak up. Don't let another Union Station demolition happen under your nose.

In response to Columbus Foundation’s announcement of plans for rehabilitation and expansion of their headquarters in the Old Governor’s Mansion at 1234 East Broad Street, Columbus Landmarks has called a special meeting of its Board of Trustees to address the issue of the proposed demolition of the Firestone Mansion. Since the announcement, Columbus Landmarks’ officers have met with Doug Kridler, Executive Director of the Columbus Foundation.The Board and staff of Columbus Landmarks Foundation welcome your input regarding this issue. Please address your comments to Kathy Mast Kane, Executive Director. The Board will be meeting Wednesday September 5th.

The Firestone Mansion at 1266 East Broad Street, named on behalf of the original residents, Joseph F. and Josephine Firestone, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places* in 1987 as a contributing building in the East Broad Street Historic District. This district nomination is part of a larger collective nomination called the East Broad Street Multiple Resource Area, which includes not only this linear district, but also several individual and clustered buildings along the East Broad Street corridor between Parsons Avenue and Nelson Road. These listed resources “represent the remaining wealth and diversity of structures along East Broad St., the major residential corridor and east-west axis in Columbus during Broad Street’s major period of growth and development from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-1930s.” (National Register nomination)

The Firestone Mansion was built ca. 1906, soon after construction of the Old Governor’s Mansion. (The Old Governor’s Mansion was built in 1904 as the home of Charles Lindenberg, president of the Lillia Regalia Co., which produced flags and bunting. It got its’ popular name from having served as the residence of 10 governors between 1920 and 1957.) The Firestone Mansion was designed in the Second Renaissance Revival architectural style, one of 17 high styles of architecture represented along the historic residential corridor. The style was popular for major commercial, public and residential buildings from the 1890s through the 1930s. Architectural historians speculate that this building was designed by local renowned architect Frank Packard, like the Governor’s Mansion next door. Research is still being conducted, however.

The Firestone Mansion is unusual among the residences on East Broad Street in that it has the effect of a raised basement and is a full three stories. It was built as a substantial house of fine materials with many expensive details. All four elevations are laid in Flemish bond, a form of brickwork in which every other brick is laid with its short end exposed for the resulting pattern. Flemish bond is more expensive than conventional brickwork because it takes greater skill to lay and uses many more bricks. That all four elevations of the house are laid in Flemish bond is indicative of the fact that this is a house on which no expense was spared.

The Firestone Mansion is also recognized as historically important for its association with Joseph F. Firestone, a vice president and manager of the Columbus Buggy Company at the time the house was built. The Columbus Buggy Company was a thriving business by the late 1800s. The company expanded to a new factory at 400 Dublin Avenue after the turn of the century, not long before Joseph Firestone had this house built. The company was focused on preparing to exhibit its new Firestone-Columbus automobile at the 1909 Chicago Auto Show when the Joseph Firestone family moved in. The company was soon to sell over 2,000 cars a year. Firestone died in 1914 and his wife lived at the residence until her death ca. 1918. The house was converted to six luxury apartments by the late 1920s.Joseph’s brother, Clinton D., was founder of the Columbus Buggy Company along with Oscar and George M. Peters in 1875. Clinton, president of Columbus Buggy Company, also lived on East Broad Street, at #580. After he died in 1914, the house became the longtime offices of Columbus Mutual Life Insurance Company. It was demolished in 1962.

For more information on how to get involved in saving Firestone or other
historically significant structures in Columbus, visit

Jazz Debuts at W. Long

Downtown continues to surprise. A new jazz club officially opened up at 55 W. Long Street near the YMCA over Labor Day weekend. The jazz option diversifies the bar offerings in the city by offering a grown up destination for music lovers.

The obvious shortcoming is the boarded up black windows. Haven't been inside the club just yet but instinctively people like to be able to look into and out of windows for the always entertaining people watching. Visibility inside the club also allows people on the street to see that the club is open and people are inside enjoying themselves. The visible presence of people draws other people. This area already has too many boarded up windows for the club to stand out as a trendy, thriving business. Another trouble spot is that the only other sign on the building is a "for lease" sign on the exterior.

The club website still needs some love.

Hopefully the club will entertain talking to the nearby hotels especially the nearby Double Tree so they can be a recommended destination for guests looking for a close drink/meal or live entertainment.

Good luck James Club.